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Zalcitabine (By mouth)

Zalcitabine (zal-SYE-ta-been)

Treats human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. HIV causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Zalcitabine does not cure HIV or AIDS, but it may slow the disease process and prolong your life. This medicine was withdrawn from the U.S. market on December 31, 2006 due to the availability of newer HIV medicines.

Brand Name(s):

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to zalcitabine.

How to Use This Medicine:


  • Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to take and how often. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than your doctor tells you to.

If a dose is missed:

  • If you miss a dose or forget to take your medicine, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to take the medicine and skip the missed dose.
  • Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine:

  • Store the medicine at room temperature in a closed container, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children and never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are taking cimetidine (Tagamet®), probenecid (Benemid®), antacids (such as Maalox®, Mylanta®, Di-Gel®), didanosine (Videx®), disulfiram (Antabuse®), gold, cisplatin (Platinol®), vincristine (Oncovin®), phenytoin (Dilantin®), or medicine to treat infections.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant, or if you have kidney or liver disease, or a history of pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas), heart failure, or alcohol abuse.
  • You should not breastfeed if you have HIV or AIDS, because you may give the infection to your baby through your breast milk.
  • Zalcitabine may cause nerve damage. If you have any numbness, tingling, burning, or pain in the hands or feet, call your doctor right away.
  • This nerve damage may occur more often in patients who have had the problem before, or in patients who have diabetes or have lost weight. Taking other medicines such as isoniazid, some types of sulfa drugs, Dilantin®, and cancer medicines can increase the chance of nerve damage.
  • Zalcitabine will not keep you from giving HIV to your partner during sex. Make sure you understand and practice safe sex, even if your partner also has HIV. Do not share needles with anyone else.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in the face or hands, swelling or tingling in the mouth or throat, tightness in the chest, or trouble breathing.
  • Convulsions (seizures).
  • Numbness, tingling, burning or pain in the hands or feet.
  • Severe stomach pain with nausea or vomiting.
  • Unexplained fever, chills, or sore throat.
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding.
  • Yellow skin or eyes.

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Confusion, memory loss, or depressed mood.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Joint or muscle pain.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Mouth sores.
  • Tiredness or headache.

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Last Updated: 9/4/2017

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