Meds and you

27 September 2013

Didanosine

Didanosine is an antiretroviral. Antiretrovirals are drugs that suppress the activity or replication of retroviruses such as HIV.

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(Also known as ddl)

Didanosine is the active ingredient of Videx tablets (Nappi Code: 793221-005, 852961-006, 793213-002 & 793205-018), Videx powder (Nappi Code: 847518-019) and Aspen Didanosine (Nappi Code: 703330-001, 703332-001, 703333-001 & 703392-001).

General information
Didanosine is an antiretroviral. Antiretrovirals are drugs that suppress the activity or replication of retroviruses such as HIV. This specific antiviral is classified as a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, meaning that it blocks an enzyme which is essential for the retrovirus to multiply.

In South Africa didanosine is registered for the treatment of infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), often in combination with other antiretroviral drugs.

If not treated, HIV will advance to weaken the body's immune system, gradually chipping away to create grounds for other infections which the body will find more and more difficult to protect itself against. HIV develops into acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) when your immune system has been severely weakened.

For didanosine to be effective it has to be taken regularly. By skipping even a few doses the risk for treatment failure increases substantially. Try to ensure that you take all your doses, and at the correct time.

It should be understood that didanosine is not a cure for HIV or AIDS, but is one of a variety of drugs that only restricts the advance of the virus, keeping the immune system up-and-running. It is used in combination with other antiretroviral drugs and should not be prescribed on its own.

Didanosine does not reduce transmission of HIV; you can still infect another person with the virus and the use of appropriate precautions to prevent spread to other persons is highly recommended.

How does didanosine work?
When HIV infects a human T cell, a type of white blood cell that plays a key role in the functioning of the immune system, viral genetic information in the form of RNA needs to be converted to DNA for the virus to have any effect. It makes use of an enzyme called reverse transcriptase to achieve this conversion. Didanosine targets and inhibits this enzyme, thus preventing the spread of HIV.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 4
Available as: didanosine is available as tablets and oral solution.
What does it do? Didanosine is an anti-viral drug.
Overdose risk: medium
Dependence risk: low
Is didanosine available as a generic? yes
Is didanosine available on prescription only? yes

User information

Dietary advice: didanosine should best be taken on an empty stomach, preferably 30 minutes before, or 1-2 hours after a meal.
Stopping this medicine: do not stop taking this drug without consulting your doctor.
Prolonged use: side-effects may develop with long-term use. Frequent blood tests may be required with prolonged therapy to prevent serious blood disorders and inflammation of the pancreas, and to determine liver function.

Special precautions
Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have known liver or kidney problems

  • you have a history of pancreatitis

  • you have a history of alcoholism

  • you have been diagnosed with high levels of uric acid in your blood

  • you are on a salt restricted diet

Pregnancy: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your baby. Consult your doctor before using this drug, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.
Breastfeeding: avoid. Not only can HIV infection be passed to your baby through breast milk, but didanosine is also present and transmitted in breast milk.
Porphyria: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your condition. Consult your doctor before use.
Infants and children: safe for short-term use in therapeutic doses.
Driving and hazardous work: no special precautions need to be taken.
Alcohol: avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication.

Possible side effects

Side Effect
Frequency
Consult your doctor

Common
Rare
Only if severe
In all cases
nausea/vomiting
X

X

diarrhoea
X

X

abdominal pain
X


X
headache

X
X

anxiety

X
X

restlessness

X

X
loss of appetite

X
X

dry mouth

X
X

muscle pain

X

X
numbness of fingers/toes

X

X
visual disturbances

X

X
seizures

X

X
skin rash

X

X

Interactions

Drug interactions

antacids possible reduced effect of didanosine
ganciclovir risk of didanosine toxicity
ketoconazol possible reduced effect of didanosine
stavudine increased risk of pancreatitis
methadone possible reduced effect of didanosine

Disease interactions
Contact your doctor in case of liver/kidney disease, if you have been diagnosed with an inflammatory pancreatic condition or if you have a history of alcohol abuse.

Overdose action
Didanosine when taken in overdose may have serious consequences. Seek immediate medical attention.

Recommended dosage
Adults weighing more than 60 kg: 400 mg daily as a single or 2 divided doses
Adults weighing less than 60 kg: 250 mg daily as a single or 2 divided doses

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.
 
 

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