What is a Patient Information Leaflet and why is it useful?

The Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) is the leaflet included in the pack with a medicine. It is written for patients and gives information about taking or using a medicine. It is possible that the leaflet in your medicine pack may differ from this version because it may have been updated since your medicine was packaged.

Below is a text only representation of the Patient Information Leaflet. The original leaflet can be viewed using the link above.

The text only version may be available in large print, Braille or audio CD. For further information call emc accessibility on 0800 198 5000. The product code(s) for this leaflet is: EU/1/96/009/009.

Zerit 200 mg Powder for Oral Solution

Package leaflet: Information for the user

Zerit 200 mg powder for oral solution


Read all of this leaflet carefully before you start taking this medicine because it contains important information for you.

  • Keep this leaflet. You may need to read it again.
  • If you have any further questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
  • This medicine has been prescribed for you only. Do not pass it on to others. It may harm them, even if their signs of illness are the same as yours.
  • If you get any side effects, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. This includes any possible side effects not listed in this leaflet. See section 4.

What is in this leaflet

1. What Zerit is and what it is used for
2. What you need to know before you take Zerit
3. How to take Zerit
4. Possible side effects
5. How to store Zerit
6. Contents of the pack and other information

1. What Zerit is and what it is used for

Zerit belongs to a particular group of antiviral medicines, also known as antiretrovirals, called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs).

These are used to treat Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection.

This medicinal product, in combination with other antiretrovirals, reduces the HIV viral load and keeps it at a low level. It also increases CD4 cell counts. These CD4 cells play an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system to help fight infection. Response to treatment with Zerit varies between patients. Your doctor will therefore be monitoring the effectiveness of your treatment.

Zerit may improve your condition, but it is not a cure for your HIV infection. You can still pass on HIV when taking this medicine, although the risk is lowered by effective antiretroviral therapy.Discuss with your doctor the precautions needed to avoid infecting other people.

During treatment, other infections, linked to a weakened immunity (opportunistic infections) may arise. These will require specific and sometimes preventive treatment.

2. What you need to know before you take Zerit

Do not take Zerit

  • If you are allergic to stavudine or any of the other ingredients of this medicine (listed in section 6). Contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
  • If you are taking didanosine, used to treat HIV infection

Warnings and precautions

Talk to your doctor before taking Zerit.

Before treatment with Zerit, you should have told your doctor:

  • if you suffer from kidney disease or liver disease (such as hepatitis)
  • if you have had peripheral neuropathy (persistent numbness, tingling, or pain in the feet and/or hands)
  • if you have suffered from pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).

Zerit can cause a sometimes fatal condition called lactic acidosis, together with an enlarged liver. This condition usually does not occur until a few months after onset of treatment. This rare, but very serious side effect occurs more often in women, particularly if very overweight. In addition, rare cases of liver failure/renal failure or fatal hepatitis have been reported.

Patients with chronic hepatitis B or C and treated with antiretroviral agents are at increased risk for severe and potentially fatal liver side effects and may require blood tests for control of liver function.

If you develop one of the following, contact your doctor:

  • persistent numbness, tingling or pain in feet and/or hands (this may indicate the beginning of peripheral neuropathy, an adverse effect on the nerves), muscular weakness
  • abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting
  • rapid deep breathing, drowsiness (which may indicate pancreatitis, liver disturbance such as hepatitis, or lactic acidosis).

In some patients with advanced HIV infection (AIDS) and a history of opportunistic 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. If you notice any symptoms of infection, please inform your doctor immediately. In addition to the opportunistic infections, autoimmune disorders (a condition that occurs when the immune system attacks healthy body tissue) may also occur after you start taking medicines for the treatment of your HIV infection. Autoimmune disorders may occur many months after the start of treatment. If you notice any symptoms of infection or other symptoms such as muscle weakness, weakness beginning in the hands and feet and moving up towards the trunk of the body, palpitations, tremor or hyperactivity, please inform your doctor immediately to seek necessary treatment.

During therapy with Zerit there is often a gradual loss of subcutaneous fat (fat found beneath the skin), which is most notable in the face and on the legs and arms. Contact your doctor if you notice such changes.

Bone problems

Some patients taking Zerit may develop a bone disease called osteonecrosis (death of bone tissue caused by loss of blood supply to the bone). The length of combination antiretroviral therapy, corticosteroid use, alcohol consumption, severe immunosuppression, higher body mass index, among others, may be some of the many risk factors for developing this disease. Signs of osteonecrosis are joint stiffness, aches and pains (especially of the hip, knee and shoulder) and difficulty in movement. If you notice any of these symptoms please inform your doctor.

Other medicines and Zerit

Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking, have recently taken or might take any other medicines.

Do not take Zerit if you are taking didanosine, used to treat HIV infection.

Tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following medicines, as undesirable interactions may occur:

  • zidovudine, used to treat HIV infection
  • doxorubicin, used to treat cancer
  • ribavirin, used to treat hepatitis C infection.

Zerit with food and drink

For maximum effect, Zerit should be taken on an empty stomach, and preferably at least one hour before a meal. If this is not possible, Zerit may also be taken with a light meal.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding

If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, think you may be pregnant or are planning to have a baby, ask your doctor for advice before taking this medicine.


You must contact your doctor to discuss the potential side effects and the benefits and risks of your antiretroviral therapy to you and your child. Lactic acidosis (sometimes fatal) has been reported in pregnant women who received Zerit in combination with other antiretroviral treatment.

If you have taken Zerit during your pregnancy, your doctor may request regular blood tests and other diagnostic tests to monitor the development of your child. In children whose mothers took NRTIs during pregnancy, the benefit from the protection against HIV outweighed the risk of side effects.


Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding. It is recommended that HIV-infected women should not breast-feed under any circumstances in order to avoid transmission of HIV to the baby.

Driving and using machines

Zerit may cause dizziness and drowsiness.

If you are affected, do not drive and do not use any tools or machines.

Zerit contains sucrose and preservatives

After reconstitution with water, the solution contains 50 mg of sucrose per ml of solution. This should be taken into account in patients with diabetes mellitus. If you have been told by your doctor that you have an intolerance to some sugars, contact your doctor before taking this medicinal product. May be harmful to the teeth.

This product contains methylhydroxybenzoate (E218) and propylhydroxybenzoate (E216) that may cause allergic reactions (possibly delayed).

3. How to take Zerit

Always take this medicine exactly as your doctor has told you. Check with your doctor if you are not sure. Your doctor has defined your daily dose based on your weight and individual characteristics. Please follow these recommendations closely as they will give you the best chance to delay development of a resistance to the medicinal product. Do not change the dose on your own. Continue to take this medicine until your doctor tells you otherwise.

For adults whose body weight is 30 kg or more, the usual starting dose is 30 or 40 mg given twice daily (with approximately 12 hours between each dose).

To obtain optimal absorption, Zerit should be taken at least one hour before a meal and on an empty stomach. If this is not possible, Zerit may also be taken with a light meal.

Prepare the ready-to-use solution by mixing the powder with 202 ml of water or by slowly adding water up to the top edge of the bottle label shown by the arrow fill marks. Then screw the cap on tightly and shake the bottle well until the powder dissolves completely, and take or dispense the solution with the measuring cup provided. For infants who require a dose less than 10 ml, ask your pharmacist for a syringe to use to accurately measure the oral dose. Do not worry if the solution remains slightly hazy after mixing with water; this is normal. If needed, consult your pharmacist for help with this procedure.

Use in children

For children whose body weight is 30 kg or more, the usual starting dose is 30 or 40 mg given twice daily (with approximately 12 hours between each dose).

Children from birth to 13 days old should receive 0.5 mg/kg twice daily. Children at least 14 days old whose body weight is less than 30 kg, should receive 1 mg/kg twice daily.

If you take more Zerit than you should

If you have taken too much of the solution, or if someone accidentally swallows some, there is no immediate danger. However, you should contact your doctor or the nearest hospital for advice.

If you forget to take Zerit

If you accidentally miss a dose, then simply take your normal dose when the next one is due. Do not take a double dose to make up for a forgotten dose.

If you stop taking Zerit

The decision to stop using Zerit should be discussed with your doctor.

If you have any further questions on the use of this medicine, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

4. Possible side effects

Like all medicines, this medicine can cause side effects, although not everybody gets them.

When treating HIV infection it is not always possible to differentiate between unwanted effects caused by Zerit or those caused by any other medicines you may be taking at the same time, or by the complications of the infection. For this reason, it is important that you inform your doctor of any change in your health.

During HIV therapy there may be an increase in weight and in levels of blood lipids and glucose. This is partly linked to restored health and life style, and in the case of blood lipids sometimes to the HIV medicines themselves. Your doctor will test for these changes.

Treatment with stavudine (Zerit) often causes a loss of fat from legs, arms and face (lipoatrophy). This loss of body fat has been shown to be not fully reversible after discontinuation of stavudine. Your doctor should monitor for signs of lipoatrophy. Tell your doctor if you notice any loss of fat from your legs, arms, and face. When these signs occur, Zerit should be stopped and your HIV treatment changed.

Patients treated with Zerit have reported the following side effects:

Common (may affect up to 1 in 10 people)

  • asymptomatic hyperlactatemia (build up of acid in your blood)
  • lipoatrophy
  • depression
  • peripheral neurologic symptoms including peripheral neuropathy, paresthesia, and peripheral neuritis (numbness, weakness, tingling or pain in the arms and legs)
  • dizziness, abnormal dreams, headache
  • insomnia (difficulty sleeping), somnolence (sleepiness), abnormal thinking
  • diarrhoea, abdominal pain (stomach pain of discomfort)
  • nausea, dyspepsia (indigestion)
  • rash, pruritus (itching)
  • fatigue (extreme tiredness)

Uncommon (may affect up to 1 in 100 people)

  • lactic acidosis (build up of acid in your blood) in some cases involving motor weakness (weakness in your arms, legs or hands)
  • gynaecomastia (breast enlargement in men)
  • anorexia (loss of appetite), anxiety, emotional lability
  • pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), vomiting
  • hepatitis (inflamation of the liver), jaundice (yellow of the skin or eyes)
  • urticaria (itchy rash), arthralgia (joint pain)
  • myalgia (aching muscles), asthenia (unusual tiredness or weakness)

Rare (may affect up to 1 in 1,000 people)

  • anemia
  • hyperglycaemia (high sugar levels in the blood)
  • hepatic steatosis (fat in the liver)

Very rare (may affect up to 1 in 10,000 people)

  • thrombocytopenia, neutropenia (blood disorders)
  • diabetes mellitus
  • motor weakness (most often reported in the setting of symptomatic hyperlacetatemia or lactic acidosis syndrome)
  • liver failure

Reporting of side effects

If you get any side effects, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. This includes any possible side effects not listed in this leaflet. You can also report side effects directly via (see details below). By reporting side effects you can help provide more information on the safety of this medicine.


HPRA Pharmacovigilance
Earlsfort Terrace
IRL - Dublin 2
Tel: +353 1 6764971
Fax: +353 1 6762517
Website: www.hpra.ie


ADR Reporting

United Kingdom

Yellow Card Scheme

5. How to store Zerit

Keep this medicine out of the sight and reach of children.

Do not use this medicine after the expiry date which is stated on the bottle and on the carton after EXP. The expiry date refers to the last day of that month.

Do not store the dry powder above 30°C. Store in the original package in order to protect from excessive moisture.

The prepared oral solution is stable for 30 days in a refrigerator (2°C -8°C).

Keep the bottle tightly closed.

Do not throw away any medicines via wastewater or household waste. Ask your pharmacist how to throw away medicines you no longer use. These measures will help protect the environment.

6. Contents of the pack and other information

What Zerit contains

  • The active substance is stavudine (200 mg).
  • The other ingredients of the powder are: cherry flavour, methylhydroxybenzoate (E218), propylhydroxybenzoate (E216), silicon dioxide, simethicone, sodium carmellose, sorbic acid, stearate emulsifiers and sucrose.

What Zerit looks like and content of the pack

The powder contains 200 mg stavudine. The reconstituted solution contains 1 mg of stavudine per ml. Before reconstitution the Zerit powder appears as off-white to pale-pink, gritty powder. When reconstituted with 202 ml of water, produces 210 ml of a colorless to slightly pink, hazy solution. Zerit 200 mg powder for oral solution is supplied in a bottle containing 200 ml solution.

Marketing Authorisation Holder and Manufacturer

Marketing Authorisation Holder

Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharma EEIG
Plaza 254
Blanchardstown Corporate Park 2
Dublin 15
D15 T867


Bristol-Myers Squibb S.r.l.
Contrada Fontana del Ceraso
03012 Anagni (FR)

For any information about this medicine, please contact the local representative of the Marketing Authorisation Holder:

United Kingdom
Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceuticals Ltd
Tel: + 44 (0800) 731 1736

This leaflet was last revised in February 2019.

Detailed information on this medicine is available on the European Medicines Agency web site: http://www.ema.europa.eu/.