James Mason, M.D., quickly pointed out, though, that, "This new drug is not
a cure, but it constitutes an important addition to the expanding group of
antiviral drugs currently available, including AZT and DDI, for treating
people with AIDS."
Description: ddC is a nucleoside analog drug designed to treat HIV. The
pharmacological action of zalcitabine is to prevent the AIDS virus from
replicating or reproducing before T-Cells (immune cells) are infected.
Specifically, dideoxynucleoside analogs inhibit reverse transcriptase by
terminating replication. Replication is terminated when an analog is
incorporated into a growing DNA molecule because the 3'OH of the sugar
has been removed, thereby precluding chain extension (see structure above).
Side Effects: Serious side effects include neurological complications (slight tingling and/or pain in the hands and feet). Inflammation of the nerves is called peripheral neuropathy and is a serious side effect. Symptoms include a burning or numbing in he hands or feet. Severity can vary from mild symptoms to a serious pain that makes walking hard. This condition usually vanishes when Zalcitabine is no longer taken. Other side effects include: pancreatitis, rash, oral ulcers, decreased blood platelet counts, abnormal liver function, skin eruptions, canker sores, and fever.
Managing Side Effects: If neuropathy results, drug usage must be discontinued. Antidepressants seem to alleviate peripheral neuropathy. Alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, also seems to help some.
Dosage: Adults take 2.25 mg a day total. This is taken in three
doses that should be divided evenly and spaced evenly throughout the
Efficacy: The drug must be taken constantly to control an infection to
prevent illness. If viral resistance builds and you become resistant,
Zalcitabine usage may be discontinued.
Price: For 100 .75mg Tablets (3/day, lasting approximately 33
days), Hivid (Zalcitabine) costs $198.76. (www.planetrx.com)
Studies: Viani RM. "HIV Phenotypes in Children Treated with
Zalcitabine." J Infect Dis. 1998; 177: 565-570.
Viani et al. Showed that zalcitabine resistance in children is rare despite prolonged treatment.