Retrovir (generically known as Zidovudine) is an antiretroviral medication used in the treatment of HIV/AIDS. Retrovir belongs to a class of drugs known as nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NARTIs or NRTIs). Reverse transcriptase is a part of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) required to infect cells and spread the virus.
Zidovudine prevents reverse transcriptase from working properly. It works by inhibiting the reverse transcriptase enzyme, which is necessary for the replication of the HIV virus. By inhibiting this process, Retrovir can help to slow down the replication of the virus and reduce the amount of HIV in the blood.
Zidovudine is not a cure for HIV/AIDS and must be taken continuously in combination with other antiretroviral drugs to be effective in controlling the virus. Zidovudine is also used to help prevent pregnant women who have HIV infection from passing the virus to their child during birth.
Uses and Dosage
Retrovir comes in the form of Capsule to take by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor, usually 2 to 3 times daily. Take the capsules with a full glass of water (8 ounces/240 milliliters) unless your doctor directs you otherwise.
Take Retrovir 2 hours before or after taking clarithromycin. Clarithromycin may prevent your body from fully absorbing zidovudine. For the best effect, take this medication at evenly spaced times. To help you remember, take this medication at the same time every day.
The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. For children, the dosage is also based on weight.
- The usual daily recommended dose of zidovudine for adults weighing 30 kilograms or more is 600 mg, to be taken orally once daily. It can be taken as 300 mg every 12 hours or 200 mg every 8 hours.
- Children and individuals weighing between 4 kilograms and 30 kilograms should follow a dosage based on their body weight or size. For body weight-based dosing, the recommended dose for children weighing between 4 kilogram and 9 kilograms is 24 mg per kilogram of body weight daily, while individuals between 9 kilograms and 30 kilograms should take 18 mg per kilogram of body weight daily.
- For the prevention of transmission of HIV infection to babies by pregnant mothers, 100 mg of zidovudine is taken orally five times daily from the 14th week of pregnancy until labor and delivery. During labor and delivery, zidovudine is given intravenously by the hospital until the baby is born. The baby is then given a dose of zidovudine based on their body weight every six hours until they are six weeks old.
Common Side Effects of Retrovir (Zidovudine):
- General ill feeling
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of body fat (especially in your arms, legs, face, and buttocks)
Serious Side Effects of Retrovir (Zidovudine):
- Burning in your eyes
- Clay-colored stools
- Cold hands and feet
- Cold sores
- Dark urines
- Difficulty breathing
- Easy bruising
- Feeling cold
- Irregular heart rate
- Loss of appetite
- Menstrual changes
- Mouth sores
- Night sweats
- Pale skin
- Prickly feeling
- Problems with balance or eye movement
- Red or purple skin rash that spreads and causes blistering and peeling
- Right-sided upper stomach pain
- Shortness of breath
- Skin pain and sores
- Sore throat
- Stomach pain
- Swelling in your neck or throat
- Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat
- Trouble breathing
- Trouble speaking or swallowing
- Unusual bleeding
- Unusual muscle pain
- Weight loss
- Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)
Form and Strength
Retrovir (Zidovudine) is available in the following forms and strength:
- 100 mg
- 100 mg
- 300 mg
- Retrovir can cause hematologic toxicity, including neutropenia and severe anemia. Healthcare professionals should monitor blood counts and adjust the dose if necessary.
- Retrovir can increase the risk of lactic acidosis, a serious condition that occurs when there is an excess of lactic acid in the blood. Symptoms of lactic acidosis may include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and difficulty breathing.
- Retrovir may be contraindicated or require dosage adjustments in people with hepatic impairment, as the drug is metabolized in the liver.
- Retrovir may be contraindicated or require dosage adjustments in people with renal impairment, as the drug is eliminated from the body through the kidneys.
- Retrovir may interact with other medications, including those for HIV/AIDS or other conditions, which can lead to reduced effectiveness or increased risk of side effects.
- Retrovir may cause myopathy, a condition that results in muscle weakness or pain. People on Retrovir should be monitored for any signs of muscle weakness or pain.
- Some people taking Retrovir may experience peripheral neuropathy, which can cause tingling, numbness, or pain in the hands or feet.
- Retrovir has been associated with mitochondrial toxicity, which can lead to a range of symptoms including fatigue, weakness, and muscle pain.
- Some people taking Retrovir may experience immune reconstitution syndrome, which occurs when the body’s immune system starts to recover and reacts to preexisting opportunistic infections.
- Retrovir can be used during pregnancy to reduce the risk of HIV transmission to the fetus, but it may also cause maternal and fetal side effects. It is also excreted in breast milk, so healthcare professionals should weigh the potential benefits and risks before recommending it to people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is zidovudine used in pregnancy?
This drug should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed and the benefit outweighs the risk to the fetus. Malformative risk with use of this drug in pregnant women is unlikely.
Is Retrovir a cure for HIV/AIDS?
No. Retrovir is an antiretroviral medication that can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS, but it is not a cure.
When was Retrovir approved by the FDA?
Retrovir (Zidovudine) was approved by the FDA on March 19, 1987.