An Overview of Retrovir (Zidovudine, AZT)
August 23, 2013
Brand Name: Retrovir
Zidovudine can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include lactic acidosis (buildup of acid in the blood), liver problems, and blood disorders, including severe anemia. Use of zidovudine for a long time can cause muscle weakness (myopathy).
Call your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms:
While taking zidovudine, it is important to keep all of your appointments with your health care provider.
What is zidovudine?
Zidovudine is a prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the following uses:
Zidovudine is a type of anti-HIV medicine called a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI). NRTIs work by blocking HIV reverse transcriptase, an HIV enzyme. This prevents HIV from replicating and lowers the amount of HIV in the blood.
Zidovudine does not cure HIV/AIDS. Despite use of zidovudine to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, some cases of HIV infection can still occur.
What should I tell my health care provider before taking zidovudine?
Before taking zidovudine, tell your health care provider:
How should I take zidovudine?
Zidovudine comes in the following forms and strengths:
Take zidovudine according to your health care provider's instructions.
Take zidovudine tablets, capsules, and syrup with or without food.
Before use, zidovudine concentrate for intravenous infusion is diluted with dextrose (sugar dissolved in water). The diluted concentrate is given through a needle into a vein.
If you take too much zidovudine, contact your local poison control center (1-800-222-1222) or go to the nearest hospital emergency room right away.
For more information on how to take zidovudine tablets, capsules, and syrup, see the FDA drug label from DailyMed. (DailyMed is a federal website that includes the most recent drug labels submitted to FDA.) For more information on how to take zidovudine intravenous infusion, see the drug summary from MedlinePlus.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
If you are taking zidovudine by mouth (tablets, capsules, or syrup) and forget a dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. But if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and just take your next dose at the regular time. Do not take two doses at the same time to make up for a missed dose.
If you or your child is taking the zidovudine by infusion, your health care provider may tell you to stop the infusion if you or your child has a mechanical problem (such as blockage in the tubing, needle, or catheter). If you have to stop an infusion, call your health care provider immediately so your therapy can continue after the problem is resolved.
What side effects can zidovudine cause?
Zidovudine can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include lactic acidosis (buildup of acid in the blood), liver problems, and blood disorders, including severe anemia. Use of zidovudine for a long time can cause muscle weakness. (See the WARNING above).
Other possible side effects of zidovudine include:
Tell your health care provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.
These are not all the possible side effects of zidovudine. Ask your health care provider or pharmacist for more information on possible side effects of zidovudine.
How should zidovudine be stored?
Where can I find more information about zidovudine?
More information about zidovudine is available:
This article was provided by AIDSinfo. Visit the AIDSinfo website to find out more about their activities and publications.