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Zalcitabine oral

Important Note

The following information is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your physician, pharmacist or other healthcare professional. It should not be construed to indicate that use of the drug is safe, appropriate, or effective for you. Consult your healthcare professional before using this drug.




WARNING: This drug may infrequently cause severe side effects which sometimes could be fatal. Zalcitabine can cause severe nerve problems (peripheral neuropathy), and should be used with extreme caution in those who already suffer from this disorder. It may rarely cause swelling of the pancreas (pancreatitis). Tell your doctor immediately if vomiting, stomach/abdominal pain, or persistent nausea occur, as this drug may be stopped until you can be checked. A metabolic disorder (lactic acidosis) as well as severe liver disease may also occur. Rarely, fatal liver failure has occurred in those with hepatitis B infection while using zalcitabine. It should be used with caution if you have a hepatitis B infection. Tell your doctor immediately if tingling/numbness of the hands and feet, dark urine, yellowing of eyes/skin, rapid breathing, muscle aches, or unusual drowsiness occur.


This medication inhibits the replication of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) that have advanced HIV infection. This medication is not a cure and has not been shown to reduce the frequency of HIV related illness.

How To Use

Take this medicine exactly as your doctor prescribed along with zidovudine.

Side Effects

This medication may cause stomach upset, mouth sores, diarrhea, rash, headache, fatigue or fever during the first several days as your body adjusts to the medication. If these symptoms persist, or become severe, inform your doctor. Notify your doctor if you experience: numbness/tingling/ burning/shooting pain of the extremities, severe stomach pain or heartburn, nausea, vomiting, sore throat, skin rash, pain in swallowing, fast or difficult breathing, dark urine, yellowing of eyes or skin, muscle aches. This medication can affect the blood causing severe anemia and decreased blood cell counts requiring blood transfusion. Changes in body fat may occur while you are taking this medication (e.g., increased fat in the upper back and stomach areas, decreased fat in the arms and legs). The cause and long-term effects of these changes are unknown. Discuss the risks and benefits of therapy with your doctor, as well as the possible role of exercise to reduce this side effect. In the unlikely event you have an allergic reaction to this drug, seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include: rash, itching, swelling, dizziness, breathing trouble. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.


Tell your doctor your medical history, especially of: pancreatic disease, peripheral neuropathy (tingling of the hands or feet), heart problems, liver problems, kidney problems, major infections/injuries/surgeries, alcohol usage, allergies (especially drug allergies). Avoid alcohol. This medication should be used only when clearly needed during pregnancy. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. It is not known if zalcitabine is excreted into breast milk. Avoid breast-feeding in order to protect the newborn from possible HIV transmission.

Drug Interactions

This drug should not be used with the following medications because very serious interactions may occur: lamivudine. If you are currently using lamivudine, tell your doctor or pharmacist before starting zalcitabine. Tell your doctor of all prescription and nonprescription drugs you may use, especially of: chloramphenicol, cisplatin, dapsone, disulfiram, ethionamide, glutethimide, gold, hydralazine, iodoquinol, phenytoin, ribavirin, nitrofurantoin, isoniazid, metronidazole, vincristine. Food decreases the absorption of this drug. Follow your doctor's instructions with regard to eating and taking this drug. Do not start or stop any medicine without doctor or pharmacist approval.


If overdose is suspected, contact your local poison control center or emergency room immediately.


Blood tests should be done routinely to monitor for anemia and to ensure it is working properly. This medication is very potent and should not be shared.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose, use it as soon as you remember. If it is within 2 hours of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. It is important not to miss doses of this drug.


Store at room temperature away from sunlight and moisture.