(Zidovudine, Azt, Or Zdv)

  • Pill
  • Liquid
  • HIV infection
  • Prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission
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Works with other medicines to treat HIV infection. Also prevents mother-to-child sharing of HIV.

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Lower-cost generic available

Our pharmacists’ bottom line

AZT can be a good second-line choice to take within the Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitor (NRTI) drug class. AZT can have a number of serious side effects, but if you don't have prior blood, kidney, or liver problems, you should consider it.

  • AZT is provided as capsules, tablets, and syrup.
  • Used in kids and babies.
  • Take AZT with or without food.
  • AZT is included in the combination drugs Trizivir (AZT, Epivir, and Ziagen) and Combivir (AZT and Epivir), both of which are taken twice a day.
  • AZT may cause serious blood, muscle, and liver problems.
  • Poor kidney function will affect how much AZT you can take.
  • Allergies to AZT are rare, but very serious.
  • Need to get regular blood tests.
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Side effects for Retrovir (Zidovudine, Azt, Or Zdv)

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These are side effects of Retrovir (Zidovudine, Azt, Or Zdv) reported to the FDA by people taking it, and by doctors and pharmacists.

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What to expect when you take Retrovir (Zidovudine, Azt, Or Zdv)

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Tips from our pharmacists
  • Don't take AZT with stavudine, another HIV drug.
  • Work with your doctor to get regular blood tests. The goal is to make sure the drug is working well and safely.
  • Keep an eye out for any new symptoms or side effects you may start to feel while taking AZT and report them to your doctor.
  • Read the Medication Guide given to you at the pharmacy about AZT since it contains helpful information.

Risks and Warnings for Retrovir (Zidovudine, Azt, Or Zdv)

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    • Higher risk if:
    • Advanced HIV
    • Anemia
    • Neutropenia

    AZT can cause serious changes to your blood and bone marrow. Frequent blood counts are strongly recommended for people who have previously had low bone marrow levels of granulocytes. For people with early HIV disease, periodic blood counts are recommended. If anemia or neutropenia develops, dosage changes may be needed.

    This is a black box warning. The FDA requires this warning when there is a significant risk of serious or life-threatening effects that anyone taking the drug should consider.

Means that some groups have a high risk of experiencing this side effect

Tips from pharmacists and people taking Retrovir (Zidovudine, Azt, Or Zdv)

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The FDA category for this medication is C. It is advised that you: Weigh risks vs. benefits
  • Upsides and downsides from our pharmacists
  • Take AZT with or without food.
Kidneys and liver
  • Upsides and downsides from our pharmacists
  • Poor kidney function will affect how much AZT you can take.
  • Risks from our pharmacists
  • Combining certain medications can increase the risk of muscle pain (myopathy), muscle damage (rhabdomyolysis), and kidney damage. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist when taking any new medications.
  • AZT can cause this rare but life-threatening condition. Symptoms include deep and rapid breathing, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain. This is a medical emergency and you should get help right away. Baseline blood work for kidney and liver function are helpful to see if you can use AZT. It may not be a good choice for people with liver problems.