Brand names of didanosine

  • Videx

Didanosine, also known as dideoxyinosine, is an oral medication that is used in combination with other drugs to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections. This medication belongs to the class of drugs known as reverse transcriptase inhibitors. Other medications in this class of drugs include zidovudine (Retrovir), zalcitabine (Hivid), lamivudine (Epivir) and stavudine (Zerit). This medication is available in various forms - tablets (chewable), capsules (delayed release), powder for suspension and solution.

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When one is infected with HIV, the virus reproduces profusely inside the cells of the body. Subsequently the viruses that are formed newly are released from the cells and they spread all over the body infecting other healthy cells. In this process, the HIV infection extends to new and uninfected cells produced by the body continuously resulting in complete infection of the body by HIV. In order to form new viruses, the human immunodeficiency virus needs to produce fresh DNA for every virus. In effect, reverse transcriptase is an enzyme that the virus utilizes to produce the new DNA.

When inside our body, didanosine is especially transformed into its active variety, known as dideoxyadenosine triphosphate. The active form of didanosine is akin to a compound called deoxyadenosine triphosphate, a chemical substance essential for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to produce fresh DNA. Instead of deoxyadenosine triphosphate, the reverse transcriptase actually makes use of dideoxyadenosine triphosphate to produce the new DNA and it is actually the dideoxyadenosine triphosphate that obstructs with the reverse transcriptase. It may be noted that didanosine does not eliminate the already present HIV virus and it is actually not a cure for the HIV infection.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the sale and use of didanosine in October 1991.

Things you need to tell your physician before taking didanosine

As in the case of using any medication for the first time, you also need to adopt a few precautions prior to beginning therapy with the prescription drug didanosine. Before you start taking this medication, tell your physician or pharmacist if you have any allergic reactions to didanosine, or any of the ingredients in didanosine capsules and solution or any other drug. If you are not sure regarding the ingredients of didanosine, you may ask your pharmacist or personally check the medication guide. Prior to beginning treatment with didanosine, it is important for you to tell your physician about all the prescription and non-prescription (over-the-counter) drugs, herbal products, dietary supplements, and vitamins you are taking currently or intend to take in near future. Especially, tell your doctor if you are taking ribavirin (Rebetol, Virazole) or allopurinol (Aloprim, Zyloprim, Lopurin). In case you are taking any one of these medications or more, your physician is most likely to advise you not to take didanosine.

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In addition, prior to taking didanosine for the first time, tell your physician regarding all your medical conditions and history, especially if you have or have ever had peripheral neuropathy, such as tingling, burning, numbness or pain feeling in you hands and/ or feet or reduced capability to feel temperature or touch in your hands and/ or feet. Women intending to take this medication ought to tell their doctor beforehand if they are pregnant or planning to become pregnant or are breast-feeding. In case any woman taking didanosine becomes pregnant during the treatment, they should immediately contact their physician and known what they ought to do next. New mothers should never breast-feed their child if they are taking this medication, which is known to pass onto breast milk, or have been infected by HIV as it may harm the infant.

People taking didanosine ought to be aware of the fact that this medication causes a number of side effects, which need to be treated immediately to prevent them from becoming serious problems. Children who are taking this medication are unlikely to be able to tell about the side effects experienced by them. Therefore, if you are giving your child didanosine, ask the doctor as to how you would be able to know whether the child is enduring any serious side effect owing to the use of this prescription medication.

At the same time, HIV infected patients taking didanosine should know that using this medication may result in an increase in their body fat or move the fat to different areas of their body, for instance, their neck (forming something akin to a 'buffalo hump'), upper back, in the region of the stomach and breasts. They may also find their face, legs and arms losing body fat and becoming thin.

They ought to also be aware of the fact that taking didanosine to treat HIV infections may simultaneously reinforce their immune system and enable it to combat other infections that might have already been in their body. In such cases, the action of the immune system is likely to result in the development of symptoms of those additional infections in your body. In case you experience new symptoms or your existing symptoms deteriorate after commencing treatment with didanosine, contact your physician immediately for further medical help.


Didanosine or dideoxyinosine has been indicated for treating human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Although this medication is actually not a cure for HIV infection, didanosine has the aptitude to restrain the rate of reproduction of the virus as well as delay the advancement of this life-threatening ailment.

How to use didanosine

Prior to using the prescription drug didanosine as well as each time you get a refill, it is important for you to carefully go through the medication guide available with your pharmacist. In case you are unable to comprehend any part of this guide or have any queries, it is advisable that you seek assistance from your physician or pharmacist.

Didanosine is an oral medication which normally needs to be taken once every day on an empty stomach. This medication ought to be taken 1.5 hours before or 2 hours following a meal or as instructed by your physician. Remember, didanosine delayed release capsules ought to be taken as a whole and you should never crush, open or chew the capsules. Opening, crushing or chewing the capsules will only reduce the efficacy of this medication. The dosage of this medication largely depends on the patient's weight, medical condition and his/ her response to treatment with didanosine. In case you are taking this medication for the first time, you are likely to experience the symptoms of the infections you may have developed earlier, since didanosine stimulates the immune system and makes it work better. Inform your doctor if you notice headaches, fever, breathing problems, vision problems, cough and even skin disorders.

It is imperative for people taking didanosine or any other medications for treating HIV infections to continue taking the medications precisely as directed by their physician. At the same time, they ought to remember a few vital things and follow them strictly. You should be careful never to miss any dose of didanosine or enhance the dose of the medication or take it more frequently than what has been prescribed by your doctor. In case you skip any dose of the medication or change the dosing schedule without consulting your doctor or getting his/ her approval, it may result in an increase in the amount of the human immunodeficiency virus in your body. At the same time, it may make the infection even more difficult to treat as the virus is likely to become resilient to the medication. In addition, any such action may also make the side effects of using the medication worse.

Didanosine is known to work excellently when the amount of the medication is maintained at a stable level in the patient's body. Hence, it is important to take this medication at regular and evenly spaced intervals. It is best to take this medication at around the same time every day. In fact, doing so would also help you to remember when to take the medicine daily reducing the chances of skipping any dose. In case your condition does not improve or deteriorates, contact your doctor immediately and discuss the problems.

How didanosine works

Didanosine, which belongs to the class of drugs called reverse transcriptase inhibitors, works by obstructing the actions of enzyme that is essential for the virus to produce new DNA in the viral cells.

Side effects

Less common

Possible interactions

Echinacea is used by some people with a view to enhance the immune system, but it is advised that patients with weakened immune systems should avoid it. Also, if used too often, for too long, Echinacea has the potential to further reduce the strength of the immune system. Didanosine should not be taken in conjunction with any fruit juices that are acidic.


People taking the prescription drug didanosine should not discontinue taking the medication abruptly or without consulting their physician. It is advisable that they stop taking the medication under the guidance of their physician.

Storage instructions

The prescription drug didanosine, especially the capsule form, should always be stored in the container it was bought in. The container should be closed firmly and kept in a place that is beyond the reach of children. Always store this medication at room temperature and in a place that is away from extreme heat and moisture. Never store this medication in your bathroom, which is mostly damp. Didanosine in liquid form should be stored in a refrigerator in a container that is closed tightly. It is important to note that you ought to discard all unused medicines after 30 days. In addition, all outdated medications and those that are needed no more ought to be disposed of in a safe and proper manner. If needed, you may also talk to your pharmacist or the neighbourhood waste disposal company regarding the appropriate and safe disposal of the outdated and unused medication.


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