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Zerit Solution
Pronunciation: STAV-ue-deen
Generic Name: Stavudine
Brand Name: Zerit

Severe and sometimes fatal lactic acidosis (buildup of an acid in the blood) has been reported with this type of medicine. The risk may be increased in women, in patients with liver problems, and in patients who are very overweight. It may also be increased in patients who have taken certain HIV medicines for a prolonged period of time. Fatal lactic acidosis has been reported in pregnant women who use Zerit Solution in combination with certain other medicines. Tell your doctor right away if you experience extreme weakness or tiredness; unusual muscle pain; difficulty breathing; stomach pain with nausea and vomiting; feeling cold, especially in the arms and legs; dizziness and lightheadedness; or fast or irregular heartbeat.

Severe and sometimes fatal liver problems have been reported with this type of medicine. Tell your doctor right away if you experience yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark urine, pale stools, loss of appetite, nausea, or stomach pain.

When used in combination with certain medicines, pancreatitis (sometimes fatal) has occurred on rare occasions. Notify your doctor immediately if you develop severe stomach or abdominal pain.

Zerit Solution is used for:

Treating HIV infection when used in combination with other medicines.

Zerit Solution is a nucleoside analogue antiviral. It blocks the growth of HIV.

Do NOT use Zerit Solution if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in Zerit Solution
  • you are taking zidovudine
  • you are taking didanosine or hydroxyurea
  • you have an enlarged liver or lactic acidosis

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Before using Zerit Solution:

Some medical conditions may interact with Zerit Solution. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have kidney or liver problems, abnormal liver function tests, inflammation of the pancreas, gallstones, problems with tingling or numbness in your hands or feet, or diabetes
  • if you are very overweight or if you drink alcohol

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with Zerit Solution. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Didanosine because the risk of side effects, including lactic acidosis, inflammation of the pancreas, or numbness or tingling of the hands or feet, may be increased
  • Didanosine, doxorubicin, hydroxyurea, interferon, or ribavirin because the risk of severe and sometimes fatal liver problems may be increased
  • Methadone or zidovudine because they may decrease Zerit Solution's effectiveness

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Zerit Solution may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use Zerit Solution:

Use Zerit Solution as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Zerit Solution comes with an extra patient information sheet called a Medication Guide. Read it carefully. Read it again each time you get Zerit Solution refilled.
  • Take Zerit Solution by mouth with or without food.
  • Shake well before each use.
  • Use a measuring device marked for medicine dosing. Ask your pharmacist for help if you are unsure of how to measure your dose.
  • Continue to take Zerit Solution even if you feel well. Do not miss any doses.
  • If you miss a dose of Zerit Solution, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use Zerit Solution.

Important safety information:

  • Avoid drinking alcohol while you take Zerit Solution. Drinking alcohol may increase your risk of liver or pancreas problems.
  • Zerit Solution does not stop the spread of HIV to others through blood or sexual contact. Use barrier methods of birth control (eg, condoms) if you have HIV infection. Do not share needles, injection supplies, or items like toothbrushes or razors.
  • Zerit Solution is not a cure for HIV infection. Patients may still get illnesses and infections associated with HIV. Remain under the care of your doctor.
  • When your medicine supply is low, get more from your doctor or pharmacist as soon as you can. Do not stop taking Zerit Solution, even for a short period of time. If you do, the virus may grow resistant to the medicine and become harder to treat.
  • Zerit Solution may improve immune system function. This may reveal hidden infections in some patients. Tell your doctor right away if you notice symptoms of infection (eg, fever, sore throat, weakness, cough, shortness of breath) after you start Zerit Solution.
  • Changes in body fat (eg, an increased amount of fat in the upper back, neck, breast, and trunk, and loss of fat from the legs, arms, and face) may occur in some patients taking Zerit Solution. The risk of a loss of fat from the legs, arms, and face may be greater with Zerit Solution than with other similar medicines. Discuss any concerns with your doctor. Tell your doctor right away if you notice a change in your body's appearance.
  • Diabetes patients - Zerit Solution contains sucrose. It may affect your blood sugar. Check blood sugar levels closely. Ask your doctor before you change the dose of your diabetes medicine.
  • Lab tests, including liver and kidney function, may be performed while you use Zerit Solution. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: It is not known if Zerit Solution can cause harm to the fetus. If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using Zerit Solution while you are pregnant. It is not known if Zerit Solution is found in breast milk. Mothers infected with HIV should not breast-feed. There is a risk of passing the HIV infection or Zerit Solution to the baby.

Possible side effects of Zerit Solution:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Changes in body fat; diarrhea; headache; loss of appetite; nausea; vomiting.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); chills; fever; muscle aches or weakness; numbness, tingling, or pain in the hands or feet; sore throat; stomach pain (with or without nausea or vomiting); stomach swelling; symptoms of high blood sugar (eg, increased thirst or urination, confusion, unusual drowsiness); symptoms of lactic acidosis (eg, general body discomfort, cold feeling, dizziness, lightheadedness, fast or irregular heartbeat, rapid breathing, shortness of breath, unexplained weight loss); symptoms of liver problems (eg, yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark urine, pale stools, persistent loss of appetite, persistent nausea or vomiting); unusual bruising or bleeding; unusual tiredness or weakness; weakness in the arms or legs.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

See also: Zerit side effects (in more detail)

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center (, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include numbness or tingling in the hands or feet; yellowing of the skin or eyes.

Proper storage of Zerit Solution:

Store Zerit Solution in a refrigerator, between 36 and 46 degrees F (2 and 8 degrees C). Discard any unused portion after 30 days. Keep Zerit Solution out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about Zerit Solution, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Zerit Solution is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information is a summary only. It does not contain all information about Zerit Solution. If you have questions about the medicine you are taking or would like more information, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.

Issue Date: February 1, 2012
Database Edition
Copyright 2012 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

More Zerit resources

  • Zerit Side Effects (in more detail)
  • Zerit Use in Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
  • Drug Images
  • Zerit Drug Interactions
  • Zerit Support Group
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