February 24, 2017
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"Nov. 27, 2012 -- Every month, 1,000 more young Americans ages 13 to 24 get an incurable infection that's deadly unless held at bay by daily doses of costly drugs -- and many of them don't even know it.

That infection is HIV, the virus"...




Hypersensitivity Reactions

Inform patients that potentially life-threatening hypersensitivity reactions (e.g., anaphylaxis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome) can occur while receiving RETROVIR. Instruct patients to immediately contact their healthcare provider if they develop rash, as it may be a sign of a more serious reaction. Advise patients that it is very important that they remain under a healthcare provider's care during treatment with RETROVIR.

Neutropenia and Anemia

Inform patients that the major toxicities of RETROVIR are neutropenia and/or anemia. The frequency and severity of these toxicities are greater in patients with more advanced disease and in those who initiate therapy later in the course of their infection. Advise patients that if toxicity develops, they may require transfusions or drug discontinuation. Advise patients of the extreme importance of having their blood counts followed closely while on therapy, especially for patients with advanced symptomatic HIV-1 disease [see BOXED WARNING, WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].


Inform patients that myopathy and myositis with pathological changes, similar to that produced by HIV-1 disease, have been associated with prolonged use of RETROVIR [see BOXED WARNING, WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Lactic Acidosis/Hepatomegaly

Inform patients that some HIV medicines, including RETROVIR, can cause a rare, but serious condition called lactic acidosis with liver enlargement (hepatomegaly) [see BOXED WARNING, WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

HIV-1/HCV Co-infection

Inform patients with HIV-1/HCV co-infection that hepatic decompensation (some fatal) has occurred in HIV-1/HCV co-infected patients receiving combination antiretroviral therapy for HIV-1 and interferon alfa with or without ribavirin [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Use with Other Zidovudine-containing Products

RETROVIR should not be administered with combination products that contain zidovudine as one of their components (e.g., COMBIVIR [lamivudine and zidovudine] tablets or TRIZIVIR [abacavir sulfate, lamivudine, and zidovudine] tablets) [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Immune Reconstitution Syndrome

In some patients with advanced HIV infection, signs and symptoms of inflammation from previous infections may occur soon after anti-HIV treatment is started. It is believed that these symptoms are due to an improvement in the body's immune response, enabling the body to fight infections that may have been present with no obvious symptoms. Advise patients to inform their healthcare provider immediately of any symptoms of infection [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Redistribution/Accumulation of Body Fat

Inform patients that redistribution or accumulation of body fat may occur in patients receiving antiretroviral therapy and that the cause and long-term health effects of these conditions are not known at this time [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Common Adverse Reactions

Inform patients that the most commonly reported adverse reactions in adult patients being treated with RETROVIR were headache, malaise, nausea, anorexia, and vomiting. The most commonly reported adverse reactions in pediatric patients receiving RETROVIR were fever, cough, and digestive disorders. Patients also should be encouraged to contact their physician if they experience muscle weakness, shortness of breath, symptoms of hepatitis or pancreatitis, or any other unexpected adverse events while being treated with RETROVIR [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].

Drug Interactions

Caution patients about the use of other medications, including ganciclovir, interferon alfa, and ribavirin, which may exacerbate the toxicity of RETROVIR [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].


Inform pregnant women considering the use of RETROVIR during pregnancy for prevention of HIV-1 transmission to their infants that transmission may still occur in some cases despite therapy. The long-term consequences of in utero and infant exposure to RETROVIR are unknown, including the possible risk of cancer [see Use In Specific Populations].

Advise HIV-1-infected pregnant women not to breastfeed to avoid postnatal transmission of HIV to a child who may not yet be infected [see Use In Specific Populations].

Information about HIV-1 Infection

RETROVIR is not a cure for HIV-1 infection, and patients may continue to experience illnesses associated with HIV-1 infection, including opportunistic infections. Patients must remain on continuous HIV therapy to control HIV-1 infection and decrease HIV-1-related illness. Patients should be told that sustained decreases in plasma HIV-1 RNA have been associated with a reduced risk of progression to AIDS and death. Patients should remain under the care of a physician when using RETROVIR.

Patients should be informed to take all HIV medications exactly as prescribed.

Patients should be advised to avoid doing things that can spread HIV-1 infection to others.

  • Do not share needles or other injection equipment.
  • Do not share personal items that can have blood or body fluids on them, like toothbrushes and razor blades.
  • Continue to practice safe sex by using a latex or polyurethane condom or other barrier method to lower the chance of sexual contact with semen, vaginal secretions, or blood.
  • Female patients should be advised not to breastfeed. Zidovudine is excreted in human breast milk. Mothers with HIV-1 should not breastfeed because HIV-1 can be passed to the baby in the breast milk.

Instruct patients that if they miss a dose, they should just take their next dose at the usual time. Patients should not double their next dose.

Last reviewed on RxList: 12/29/2016
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

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