Zidovudine: Package Insert and Label Information

ZIDOVUDINE- zidovudine tablet, film coated
Lannett Company, Inc.


Zidovudine tablets have been associated with hematologic toxicity including neutropenia and severe anemia, particularly in patients with advanced HIV-1 disease [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)].

Prolonged use of zidovudine has been associated with symptomatic myopathy [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3)].

Lactic acidosis and severe hepatomegaly with steatosis, including fatal cases, have been reported with the use of nucleoside analogues alone or in combination, including zidovudine and other antiretrovirals. Suspend treatment if clinical or laboratory findings suggestive of lactic acidosis or pronounced hepatotoxicity occur [see Warnings and Precautions (5.4)].


1.1 Treatment of HIV-1

Zidovudine, a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, is indicated in combination with other antiretroviral agents for the treatment of HIV-1 infection.

1.2 Prevention of Maternal-Fetal HIV-1 Transmission

Zidovudine is indicated for the prevention of maternal-fetal HIV-1 transmission [see Dosage and Administration (2.3)]. The indication is based on a dosing regimen that included three components:

  • antepartum therapy of HIV-1 infected mothers
  • intrapartum therapy of HIV-1 infected mothers
  • post-partum therapy of HIV-1 exposed neonate

Points to consider prior to initiating zidovudine in pregnant women for the prevention of maternal-fetal HIV-1 transmission include:

  • In most cases, zidovudine for prevention of maternal-fetal HIV-1 transmission should be given in combination with other antiretroviral drugs.
  • Prevention of HIV-1 transmission in women who have received zidovudine for a prolonged period before pregnancy has not been evaluated.
  • Because the fetus is most susceptible to the potential teratogenic effects of drugs during the first 10 weeks of gestation and the risks of therapy with zidovudine during that period are not fully known, women in the first trimester of pregnancy who do not require immediate initiation of antiretroviral therapy for their own health may consider delaying use; this indication is based on use after 14 week’s gestation.


2.1 Adults – Treatment of HIV-1 Infection

Oral Dosing

The recommended oral dose of zidovudine tablets is 300 mg twice daily in combination with other antiretroviral agents.

2.2 Pediatric Patients (Aged 4 Weeks to Less Than 18 Years)

Healthcare professionals should pay special attention to accurate calculation of the dose of zidovudine, transcription of the medication order, dispensing information, and dosing instructions to minimize risk for medication dosing errors.

Prescribers should calculate the appropriate dose of zidovudine for each child based on body weight (kg) and should not exceed the recommended adult dose.

Before prescribing zidovudine tablets, children should be assessed for the ability to swallow tablets. If a child is unable to reliably swallow a zidovudine tablet, the zidovudine syrup formulation should be prescribed.

The recommended oral dosage in pediatric patients aged 4 weeks to less than 18 years and weighing greater than or equal to 4 kg is provided in Table 1. Zidovudine syrup should be used to provide accurate dosage when whole tablets are not appropriate.

Table 1: Recommended Pediatric Oral Dosage of Zidovudine

Body Weight (kg)

Total Daily Dose

Dosage Regimen and Dose

Twice Daily

Three Times Daily

4 to < 9

24 mg/kg/day

12 mg/kg

8 mg/kg

≥ 9 to < 30

18 mg/kg/day

9 mg/kg

6 mg/kg

≥ 30

600 mg/day

300 mg

200 mg

Alternatively, dosing for zidovudine can be based on body surface area (BSA) for each child. The recommended oral dose of zidovudine is 480 mg per m 2 per day in divided doses (240 mg per m 2 twice daily or 160 mg per m 2 three times daily). In some cases the dose calculated by mg per kg will not be the same as that calculated by BSA.

2.3 Prevention of Maternal-Fetal HIV-1 Transmission

The recommended dosage regimen for administration to pregnant women (greater than 14 weeks of pregnancy) and their neonates is:

Maternal Dosing

100 mg orally 5 times per day until the start of labor [see Clinical Studies (14.3)] . During labor and delivery, intravenous zidovudine should be administered at 2 mg per kg (total body weight) over 1 hour followed by a continuous intravenous infusion of 1 mg per kg per hour (total body weight) until clamping of the umbilical cord.

Neonatal Dosing

Start neonatal dosing within 12 hours after birth and continue through 6 weeks of age. Neonates unable to receive oral dosing may be administered zidovudine intravenously. See Table 2 for dosing recommendations.

Table 2. Recommended Neonatal Dosages of Zidovudine


Total Daily Dose

Dose and Dosage Regimen


8 mg/kg/day

2 mg/kg every 6 hours


6 mg/kg/day

1.5 mg/kg infused over 30 minutes, every 6 hours

2.4 Patients with Severe Anemia and/or Neutropenia

Significant anemia (hemoglobin less than 7.5 g per dL or reduction greater than 25% of baseline) and/or significant neutropenia (granulocyte count less than 750 cells per mm 3 or reduction greater than 50% from baseline) may require a dose interruption until evidence of marrow recovery is observed [see Warnings and Precautions (5.1)]. In patients who develop significant anemia, dose interruption does not necessarily eliminate the need for transfusion. If marrow recovery occurs following dose interruption, resumption in dose may be appropriate using adjunctive measures such as epoetin alfa at recommended doses, depending on hematologic indices such as serum erythropoietin level and patient tolerance.

2.5 Patients with Renal Impairment

In patients maintained on hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis or with creatinine clearance (CrCl) by Cockcroft-Gault less than 15 mL per min, the recommended oral dosage is 100 mg every 6 to 8 hours. The intravenous dosing regimen equivalent to the oral administration of 100 mg every 6 to 8 hours is approximately 1 mg per kg every 6 to 8 hours [see Use in Specific Populations (8.6), Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)].

2.6 Patients with Hepatic Impairment

There are insufficient data to recommend dose adjustment of zidovudine in patients with impaired hepatic function or liver cirrhosis. Frequent monitoring of hematologic toxicities is advised [see Use in Specific Populations (8.7)].


Zidovudine tablets are white, biconvex, round, film-coated tablets debossed with “S2” on one side and blank on the other side.


Zidovudine tablets are contraindicated in patients who have had a potentially life-threatening hypersensitivity reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome) to any of the components of the formulations.


5.1 Hematologic Toxicity/Bone Marrow Suppression

Zidovudine should be used with caution in patients who have bone marrow compromise evidenced by granulocyte count less than 1,000 cells per mm 3 or hemoglobin less than 9.5 g per dL. Hematologic toxicities appear to be related to pretreatment bone marrow reserve and to dose and duration of therapy. In patients with advanced symptomatic HIV-1 disease, anemia and neutropenia were the most significant adverse events observed. In patients who experience hematologic toxicity, a reduction in hemoglobin may occur as early as 2 to 4 weeks, and neutropenia usually occurs after 6 to 8 weeks. There have been reports of pancytopenia associated with the use of zidovudine, which was reversible in most instances after discontinuance of the drug. However, significant anemia, in many cases requiring dose adjustment, discontinuation of zidovudine, and/or blood transfusions, has occurred during treatment with zidovudine alone or in combination with other antiretrovirals.

Frequent blood counts are strongly recommended to detect severe anemia or neutropenia in patients with poor bone marrow reserve, particularly in patients with advanced HIV-1 disease who are treated with zidovudine. For HIV-1-infected individuals and patients with asymptomatic or early HIV-1 disease, periodic blood counts are recommended. If anemia or neutropenia develops, dosage interruption may be needed [see Dosage and Administration (2.4)].

5.3 Myopathy

Myopathy and myositis with pathological changes, similar to that produced by HIV-1 disease, have been associated with prolonged use of zidovudine.

5.4 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, including zidovudine. A majority of these cases have been in women. Female sex and obesity may be risk factors for the development of lactic acidosis and severe hepatomegaly with steatosis in patients treated with antiretroviral nucleoside analogues. Treatment with zidovudine should be suspended in any patient who develops clinical or laboratory findings suggestive of lactic acidosis or pronounced hepatotoxicity, which may include hepatomegaly and steatosis even in the absence of marked transaminase elevations.

5.5 Use with Interferon- and Ribavirin-based Regimens in HIV-1/HCV Co-infected Patients

In vitro studies have shown ribavirin can reduce the phosphorylation of pyrimidine nucleoside analogues such as zidovudine. Although no evidence of a pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic interaction (e.g., loss of HIV-1/HCV virologic suppression) was seen when ribavirin was coadministered with zidovudine in HIV-1/HCV co-infected subjects [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.3)] , exacerbation of anemia due to ribavirin has been reported when zidovudine is part of the HIV regimen. Coadministration of ribavirin and zidovudine is not advised. Consideration should be given to replacing zidovudine in established combination HIV-1/HCV therapy, especially in patients with a known history of zidovudine-induced anemia.

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. Patients receiving interferon alfa with or without ribavirin and zidovudine should be closely monitored for treatment-associated toxicities, especially hepatic decompensation, neutropenia, and anemia.

Discontinuation of zidovudine should be considered as medically appropriate. Dose reduction or discontinuation of interferon alfa, ribavirin, or both should also be considered if worsening clinical toxicities are observed, including hepatic decompensation (e.g., Child-Pugh greater than 6) (see the complete prescribing information for interferon and ribavirin).

5.6 Immune Reconstitution Syndrome

Immune reconstitution syndrome has been reported in patients treated with combination antiretroviral therapy, including zidovudine. During the initial phase of combination antiretroviral treatment, patients whose immune systems respond may develop an inflammatory response to indolent or residual opportunistic infections (such as Mycobacterium avium infection, cytomegalovirus, Pneumocystis jirovecii 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.

5.7 Lipoatrophy

Treatment with zidovudine has been associated with loss of subcutaneous fat. The incidence and severity of lipoatrophy are related to cumulative exposure. This fat loss, which is most evident in the face, limbs, and buttocks, may be only partially reversible and improvement may take months to years after switching to a non-zidovudine-containing regimen. Patients should be regularly assessed for signs of lipoatrophy during therapy with zidovudine and other zidovudine- containing products, and if feasible, therapy should be switched to an alternative regimen if there is suspicion of lipoatrophy.


The following adverse reactions are discussed in greater detail in other sections of the labeling:

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