May 28, 2017
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Included as part of the PRECAUTIONS section.



Fatal and nonfatal pancreatitis has occurred during therapy with VIDEX used alone or in combination regimens in both treatment-naive and treatment-experienced patients, regardless of degree of immunosuppression. VIDEX should be suspended in patients with signs or symptoms of pancreatitis and discontinued in patients with confirmed pancreatitis. Patients treated with VIDEX in combination with stavudine may be at increased risk for pancreatitis.

When treatment with life-sustaining drugs known to cause pancreatic toxicity is required, suspension of VIDEX (didanosine) therapy is recommended. In patients with risk factors for pancreatitis, VIDEX should be used with extreme caution and only if clearly indicated. Patients with advanced HIV-1 infection, especially the elderly, are at increased risk of pancreatitis and should be followed closely. Patients with renal impairment may be at greater risk for pancreatitis if treated without dose adjustment. The frequency of pancreatitis is dose related. [See ADVERSE REACTIONS]

Lactic Acidosis/Severe Hepatomegaly With Steatosis

Lactic acidosis and severe hepatomegaly with steatosis, including fatal cases, have been reported with the use of nucleoside analogues alone or in combination, including didanosine and other antiretrovirals. A majority of these cases have been in women. Obesity and prolonged nucleoside exposure may be risk factors. Fatal lactic acidosis has been reported in pregnant women who received the combination of didanosine and stavudine with other antiretroviral agents. The combination of didanosine and stavudine should be used with caution during pregnancy and is recommended only if the potential benefit clearly outweighs the potential risk [see Use in Specific Populations]. Particular caution should be exercised when administering VIDEX to any patient with known risk factors for liver disease; however, cases have also been reported in patients with no known risk factors. Treatment with VIDEX should be suspended in any patient who develops clinical signs or symptoms with or without laboratory findings consistent with symptomatic hyperlactatemia, lactic acidosis, or pronounced hepatotoxicity (which may include hepatomegaly and steatosis even in the absence of marked transaminase elevations).

Hepatic Toxicity

The safety and efficacy of VIDEX have not been established in HIV-infected patients with significant underlying liver disease. During combination antiretroviral therapy, patients with preexisting liver dysfunction, including chronic active hepatitis, have an increased frequency of liver function abnormalities, including severe and potentially fatal hepatic adverse events, and should be monitored according to standard practice. If there is evidence of worsening liver disease in such patients, interruption or discontinuation of treatment must be considered.

Hepatotoxicity and hepatic failure resulting in death were reported during postmarketing surveillance in HIV-infected patients treated with hydroxyurea and other antiretroviral agents. Fatal hepatic events were reported most often in patients treated with the combination of hydroxyurea, didanosine, and stavudine. This combination should be avoided. [See ADVERSE REACTIONS]

Non-cirrhotic Portal Hypertension

Postmarketing cases of non-cirrhotic portal hypertension have been reported, including cases leading to liver transplantation or death. Cases of didanosine-associated non-cirrhotic portal hypertension were confirmed by liver biopsy in patients with no evidence of viral hepatitis. Onset of signs and symptoms ranged from months to years after start of didanosine therapy. Common presenting features included elevated liver enzymes, esophageal varices, hematemesis, ascites, and splenomegaly.

Patients receiving VIDEX should be monitored for early signs of portal hypertension (eg, thrombocytopenia and splenomegaly) during routine medical visits. Appropriate laboratory testing including liver enzymes, serum bilirubin, albumin, complete blood count, and international normalized ratio (INR) and ultrasonography should be considered. VIDEX should be discontinued in patients with evidence of non-cirrhotic portal hypertension.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy, manifested by numbness, tingling, or pain in the hands or feet, has been reported in patients receiving VIDEX therapy. Peripheral neuropathy has occurred more frequently in patients with advanced HIV disease, in patients with a history of neuropathy, or in patients being treated with neurotoxic drug therapy, including stavudine. Discontinuation of VIDEX should be considered in patients who develop peripheral neuropathy. [See ADVERSE REACTIONS]

Retinal Changes And Optic Neuritis

Retinal changes and optic neuritis have been reported in adult and pediatric patients. Periodic retinal examinations should be considered for patients receiving VIDEX [see ADVERSE REACTIONS].

Immune Reconstitution Syndrome

Immune reconstitution syndrome has been reported in patients treated with combination antiretroviral therapy, including VIDEX. During the initial phase of combination antiretroviral treatment, patients whose immune system responds may develop an inflammatory response to indolent or residual opportunistic infections (such as Mycobacterium avium infection, cytomegalovirus, Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia [PCP], or tuberculosis), which may necessitate further evaluation and treatment.

Autoimmune disorders (such as Graves' disease, polymyositis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome) have also been reported to occur in the setting of immune reconstitution; however, the time to onset is more variable, and can occur many months after initiation of treatment.

Fat Redistribution

Redistribution/accumulation of body fat including central obesity, dorsocervical fat enlargement (buffalo hump), peripheral wasting, facial wasting, breast enlargement, and “cushingoid appearance” have been observed in patients receiving antiretroviral therapy. The mechanism and long-term consequences of these events are currently unknown. A causal relationship has not been established.

Patient Counseling Information

Advise the patient to read the FDA-approved patient labeling (Medication Guide).


Advise patients that a serious toxicity of VIDEX, used alone and in combination regimens, is pancreatitis, which may be fatal.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Advise patients that peripheral neuropathy, manifested by numbness, tingling, or pain in hands or feet, may develop during therapy with VIDEX. Patients should be counseled that peripheral neuropathy occurs with greatest frequency in patients with advanced HIV-1 disease or a history of peripheral neuropathy, and that discontinuation of VIDEX may be required if toxicity develops.

Lactic Acidosis And Severe Hepatomegaly With Steatosis

Advise patients that lactic acidosis and severe hepatomegaly with steatosis, including fatal cases, have been reported with the use of nucleoside analogues alone or in combination, including didanosine and other antiretrovirals.

Hepatic Toxicity

Advise patients that hepatotoxicity including fatal hepatic adverse events were reported in patients with preexisting liver dysfunction. The safety and efficacy of VIDEX have not been established in HIVinfected patients with significant underlying liver disease.

Non-cirrhotic Portal Hypertension

Advise patients that non-cirrhotic portal hypertension has been reported in patients taking VIDEX, including cases leading to liver transplantation or death.

Retinal Changes And Optic Neuritis

Advise patients that retinal changes and optic neuritis have been reported in adult and pediatric patients, which may result in dry eyes and/or blurred vision. Advise patients to have regular eye exams while taking VIDEX.

Fat Redistribution

Advise 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.

Concomitant Therapy

Advise patients that when VIDEX is used in combination with other agents with similar toxicities, the incidence of adverse events may be higher than when VIDEX is used alone. These patients should be followed closely.

Patients should be cautioned about the use of medications or other substances, including alcohol, which may exacerbate VIDEX toxicities.

Information For Patients

VIDEX is not a cure for HIV-1 infection, and patients may continue to experience illnesses associated with HIV-1 infection, including opportunistic infections. Therefore, patients should remain under the care of a physician when using VIDEX.

Advise patients 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.
  • Do not have any kind of sex without protection. Always practice safer sex by using a latex or polyurethane condom to lower the chance of sexual contact with semen, vaginal secretions, or blood.
  • Do not breastfeed. It is not known if VIDEX can be passed to your baby in your breast milk and whether it could harm your baby. Also, mothers with HIV-1 should not breastfeed because HIV-1 can be passed to the baby in breast milk.

Advise patients that the preferred dosing frequency of VIDEX is twice daily because there is more evidence to support the effectiveness of this dosing frequency. Once-daily dosing should be considered only for patients whose management requires once-daily dosing of VIDEX.

Advise patients to not miss a dose but if they do, patients should take VIDEX as soon as possible. Patients should be told that if it is almost time for the next dose, they should skip the missed dose and continue with the regular dosing schedule.

Advise patients to contact a poison control center or emergency room right away in case of an overdose.

Nonclinical Toxicology

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis, Impairment Of Fertility

Lifetime carcinogenicity studies were conducted in mice and rats for 22 and 24 months, respectively. In the mouse study, initial doses of 120, 800, and 1200 mg per kg per day for each sex were lowered after 8 months to 120, 210, and 210 mg per kg per day for females and 120, 300, and 600 mg per kg per day for males. The two higher doses exceeded the maximally tolerated dose in females and the high dose exceeded the maximally tolerated dose in males. The low dose in females represented 0.68-fold maximum human exposure and the intermediate dose in males represented 1.7-fold maximum human exposure based on relative AUC comparisons. In the rat study, initial doses were 100, 250, and 1000 mg per kg per day, and the high dose was lowered to 500 mg per kg per day after 18 months. The upper dose in male and female rats represented 3-fold maximum human exposure.

Didanosine induced no significant increase in neoplastic lesions in mice or rats at maximally tolerated doses.

Didanosine was positive in the following genetic toxicology assays: 1) the Escherichia coli tester strain WP2 uvrA bacterial mutagenicity assay; 2) the L5178Y/TK+/- mouse lymphoma mammalian cell gene mutation assay; 3) the in vitro chromosomal aberrations assay in cultured human peripheral lymphocytes; 4) the in vitro chromosomal aberrations assay in Chinese Hamster Lung cells; and 5) the BALB/c 3T3 in vitro transformation assay. No evidence of mutagenicity was observed in an Ames Salmonella bacterial mutagenicity assay or in rat and mouse in vivo micronucleus assays.

Animal Toxicology And/Or Pharmacology

Evidence of a dose-limiting skeletal muscle toxicity has been observed in mice and rats (but not in dogs) following long-term (greater than 90 days) dosing with didanosine at doses that were approximately 1.2 to 12 times the estimated human exposure. The relationship of this finding to the potential of VIDEX (didanosine) to cause myopathy in humans is unclear. However, human myopathy has been associated with administration of VIDEX and other nucleoside analogues.

Use In Specific Populations


Pregnancy Category B

Reproduction studies have been performed in rats and rabbits at doses up to 12 and 14.2 times the estimated human exposure (based upon plasma levels), respectively, and have revealed no evidence of impaired fertility or harm to the fetus due to didanosine. At approximately 12 times the estimated human exposure, didanosine was slightly toxic to female rats and their pups during mid and late lactation. These rats showed reduced food intake and body weight gains but the physical and functional development of the offspring was not impaired and there were no major changes in the F2 generation. A study in rats showed that didanosine and/or its metabolites are transferred to the fetus through the placenta. Animal reproduction studies are not always predictive of human response.

There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of didanosine in pregnant women. Didanosine should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk.

Fatal lactic acidosis has been reported in pregnant women who received the combination of didanosine and stavudine with other antiretroviral agents. It is unclear if pregnancy augments the risk of lactic acidosis/hepatic steatosis syndrome reported in nonpregnant individuals receiving nucleoside analogues [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. The combination of didanosine and stavudine should be used with caution during pregnancy and is recommended only if the potential benefit clearly outweighs the potential risk. Healthcare providers caring for HIV-infected pregnant women receiving didanosine should be alert for early diagnosis of lactic acidosis/hepatic steatosis syndrome.

Antiretroviral Pregnancy Registry

To monitor maternal-fetal outcomes of pregnant women exposed to didanosine and other antiretroviral agents, an Antiretroviral Pregnancy Registry has been established. Physicians are encouraged to register patients by calling 1-800-258-4263.

Nursing Mothers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that HIV-infected mothers not breastfeed their infants to avoid risking postnatal transmission of HIV. A study in rats showed that following oral administration, didanosine and/or its metabolites were excreted into the milk of lactating rats. It is not known if didanosine is excreted in human milk. Because of both the potential for HIV transmission and the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants, mothers should be instructed not to breastfeed if they are receiving didanosine.

Pediatric Use

Use of didanosine in pediatric patients from 2 weeks of age through adolescence is supported by evidence from adequate and well-controlled studies of VIDEX in adult and pediatric patients [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION, ADVERSE REACTIONS, CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, Clinical Studies].

Geriatric Use

In an Expanded Access Program for patients with advanced HIV infection, patients aged 65 years and older had a higher frequency of pancreatitis (10%) than younger patients (5%) [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]. Clinical studies of didanosine did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 years and over to determine whether they respond differently than younger subjects. Didanosine is known to be substantially excreted by the kidney, and the risk of toxic reactions to this drug may be greater in patients with impaired renal function. Because elderly patients are more likely to have decreased renal function, care should be taken in dose selection. In addition, renal function should be monitored and dosage adjustments should be made accordingly [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].

Renal Impairment

Patients with renal impairment (creatinine clearance of less than 60 mL per min) may be at greater risk of toxicity from didanosine due to decreased drug clearance [see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY]. A dose reduction is recommended for these patients [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION].

This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Last reviewed on RxList: 12/20/2016


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