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Fortovase Side Effects

Generic Name: saquinavir

Note: This page contains information about the side effects of saquinavir. Some of the dosage forms included on this document may not apply to the brand name Fortovase.

For the Consumer

Applies to saquinavir: oral capsule, oral capsule liquid filled, oral tablet

In addition to its needed effects, some unwanted effects may be caused by saquinavir (the active ingredient contained in Fortovase). In the event that any of these side effects do occur, they may require medical attention.

You should check with your doctor immediately if any of these side effects occur when taking saquinavir:

More common
  • Chest pain
  • cough
  • fever or chills
  • increased amount of fat in the upper back and neck, or around the chest and stomach area
  • loss of fat from the legs, arms, and face
  • sneezing
  • sore throat
  • tightness in the chest
  • troubled breathing
Less common
  • Blurred vision
  • cough-producing mucus
  • diarrhea
  • dry mouth
  • flushed, dry skin
  • fruit-like breath odor
  • general feeling of discomfort or illness
  • headache
  • increased hunger
  • increased thirst
  • increased urination
  • joint pain
  • loss of appetite
  • loss of consciousness
  • muscle aches and pains
  • nausea
  • runny nose
  • shivering
  • skin rash
  • sore throat
  • stomachache
  • sweating
  • trouble sleeping
  • unexplained weight loss
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • vomiting
  • Burning or prickling sensation
  • confusion
  • dehydration
  • dry or itchy skin

Some of the side effects that can occur with saquinavir may not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional:

Less common
  • Acid or sour stomach
  • back pain
  • belching
  • bloated or full feeling
  • change in taste
  • decreased interest in sexual intercourse
  • difficulty having a bowel movement (stool)
  • discouragement
  • excess air or gas in the stomach or intestines
  • fear
  • feeling sad or empty
  • headache
  • heartburn
  • inability to have or keep an erection
  • indigestion
  • irritability
  • lack of appetite
  • loss in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
  • loss of interest or pleasure
  • mouth ulcers
  • nervousness
  • pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
  • passing gas
  • skin rash, encrusted, scaly, and oozing
  • skin warts
  • stomach upset, discomfort, or pain
  • stuffy nose
  • tiredness
  • trouble concentrating
  • weakness

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to saquinavir: oral capsule, oral tablet


Gastrointestinal disorders (such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea) have been reported the most frequently. Additional side effects have been reported during postmarketing experience that are similar to those observed in clinical trials with saquinavir (the active ingredient contained in Fortovase) mesylate and saquinavir soft gel capsules alone or in combination with ritonavir.[Ref]


Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and constipation were reported during a trial with saquinavir (the active ingredient contained in Fortovase) soft gel capsules in combination with ritonavir.[Ref]

Very common (10% or more): Nausea (10.8%)
Common (1% to 10%): Diarrhea (8.1%), vomiting (7.4%), abdominal pain (6.1%), constipation (2%)
Frequency not reported: Abdominal discomfort, anorexia, dyspepsia, dysphagia, eructation, flatulence, gastritis, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, intestinal obstruction, dry mouth, mucosal ulceration, pancreatitis, decreased appetite, cheilitis, abdominal colic, constipation, esophageal ulceration, esophagitis, frequent bowel movements, discolored and bloodstained feces, gastralgia, gastroesophageal reflux, gastrointestinal inflammation, gingivitis, gastrointestinal ulcer, glossitis, hemorrhoids, infectious diarrhea, melena, painful defecation, parotid disorder, right and left upper quadrant abdominal pain, pruritus ani, pyrosis, rectal hemorrhage, salivary gland disorder, stomach upset, stomatitis, taste alteration, toothache, tooth disorder[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Fatigue (6.1%), fever (3.4%)
Frequency not reported: Ascites, asthenia, chest pain, edema, lethargy, wasting syndrome, intoxication, mucosa damage, external parasites, retrosternal pain, shivering, generalized weakness, earache, ear pressure, otitis, abscess, bacterial infection, candidiasis, cellulitis, herpes simplex, herpes zoster, molluscum contagiosum, moniliasis, mycotic infection, staphylococcal infections[Ref]

Fatigue and fever were reported during a trial with saquinavir soft gel capsules in combination with ritonavir.[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Lipodystrophy (5.4%), diabetes mellitus/hyperglycemia (2.7%)
Frequency not reported: Dehydration, increased or decreased appetite, hypertriglyceridemia, increased weight, raised amylase, increased alkaline phosphatase, raised LDH, hypoglycemia, hypercalcemia, hypocalcemia, hyperphosphatemia, hypophosphatemia, hyperkalemia, hypokalemia, hypernatremia, hyponatremia, hyperlipidemia, weight decrease, elevated cholesterol and/or triglyceride levels, redistribution/accumulation of body fat (including central obesity, dorsocervical fat enlargement, peripheral wasting, breast enlargement, and "cushingoid appearance")
Postmarketing reports: New onset diabetes mellitus, exacerbation of preexisting diabetes mellitus, hyperglycemia, diabetic ketoacidosis[Ref]

Lipodystrophy and diabetes mellitus/hyperglycemia were reported during a trial with saquinavir soft gel capsules in combination with ritonavir.

Elevated cholesterol and/or triglyceride levels have been reported with saquinavir in combination with ritonavir.

During postmarketing surveillance, the average time to onset of hyperglycemia and diabetes was 76 days; however, some events occurred as early as 4 days after the initiation of therapy.

The mechanism and long-term consequences of body fat redistribution/accumulation are currently unknown and a causal relationship has not been established.[Ref]


Pneumonia, bronchitis, influenza, and sinusitis were reported during a trial with saquinavir (the active ingredient contained in Fortovase) soft gel capsules in combination with ritonavir.[Ref]

Common (1% to 10%): Pneumonia (5.4%), bronchitis (2.7%), influenza (2.7%), sinusitis (2.7%)
Frequency not reported: Cough, dyspnea, epistaxis, hemoptysis, laryngitis, pharyngitis, pulmonary disease, respiratory disorder, rhinitis, upper respiratory tract infection, angina tonsillaris[Ref]


Rash, pruritus, dry lips/skin, and eczema were reported during a trial with saquinavir (the active ingredient contained in Fortovase) soft gel capsules in combination with ritonavir.[Ref]

Common (1% to 10%): Rash (3.4%), pruritus (3.4%), dry lips/skin (2%), eczema (2%)
Frequency not reported: Acne, alopecia, bullous dermatitis, drug eruption, erythema, severe cutaneous reaction associated with increased liver function tests, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, increased sweating, urticaria, dermatitis, exanthema, folliculitis, furunculosis, hair changes, hot flushes, maculopapular rash, nail disorders, night sweats, photosensitivity reaction, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, skin disorder, skin nodule, skin pigment changes, skin ulceration, verruca, xeroderma[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Back pain (2%)
Frequency not reported: Arthralgia, muscle spasms, myalgia, polyarthritis, elevated blood creatine phosphokinase, arthritis, leg cramps, muscle cramps, musculoskeletal pain, musculoskeletal disorders, stiffness, tissue changes, trauma[Ref]

Back pain was reported during a trial with saquinavir soft gel capsules in combination with ritonavir.[Ref]


Rare (less than 0.1%): Second or third degree atrioventricular block
Frequency not reported: QT interval prolongation, PR interval prolongation, heart murmur, hypertension, hypotension, thrombophlebitis, peripheral vasoconstriction, cyanosis, heart rate disorder, heart valve disorder, stroke, vein distension
Postmarketing reports: Torsades de pointes (rarely)[Ref]

Saquinavir plus ritonavir show a dose-dependent prolongation of the QT and PR intervals.[Ref]


Spontaneous bleeding in patients with hemophilia A and B has been associated with protease inhibitors. In many of the reported cases, treatment with protease inhibitors was continued or restarted and some patients required additional factor VIII. A causal relationship between protease inhibitor therapy and these episodes has not been established.[Ref]

Frequency not reported: Anemia, hemolytic anemia, leukopenia, lymphadenopathy, neutropenia, pancytopenia, thrombocytopenia, splenomegaly, dermal bleeding, microhemorrhages, spontaneous bleeding (in patients with hemophilia A and B)[Ref]


There have been reports of worsening liver disease in patients with underlying hepatitis B or C, cirrhosis, chronic alcoholism, and/or other underlying liver abnormalities.[Ref]

Frequency not reported: Chronic active hepatitis, hepatitis, hepatomegaly, hyperbilirubinemia, jaundice, portal hypertension, elevated ALT, elevated AST, elevated gamma glutamyl transpeptidase, sclerosing cholangitis, cholelithiasis, hepatosplenomegaly, liver enzyme disorder, severe cutaneous reactions associated with elevated liver function tests, isolated increase in transaminase, exacerbation of chronic liver disease with Grade 4 elevated liver function tests, worsening liver disease[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Allergic reaction, drug fever, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, bullous skin eruption with polyarthritis[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Immune reconstitution syndrome, autoimmune disorders in the setting of immune reconstitution (e.g., Graves' disease, polymyositis, Guillain-Barre syndrome)[Ref]

Nervous system

Frequency not reported: Headache, confusion, convulsions, abnormal coordination, dizziness, dysgeusia, hypoesthesia, insomnia, intracranial hemorrhage leading to death, tremors, unconsciousness, paresthesia, peripheral neuropathy, somnolence, sleep disorder, syncope, tinnitus, dysarthria, dysesthesia, ataxia, extremity numbness, face numbness, facial pain, hyperesthesia, hyperreflexia, hyporeflexia, lightheadedness, myelopolyradiculoneuritis, paresis, poliomyelitis, prickly sensation, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, seizures, spasms, weakness, decreased hearing[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Anxiety, depression, libido disorder, psychotic disorder, suicide attempt, agitation, amnesia, anxiety attack, euphoria, excessive dreaming, hallucination, irritability, lethargy, overdose effect, psychic disorders, psychosis, reduced intellectual ability, somnolence, speech disorder[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Enlarged prostate, epididymitis, impotence, menstrual disorder, menstrual irregularity, micturition disorder, nocturia, pelvic pain, penis disorder, renal calculus, renal colic, urinary tract bleeding, urinary tract infection, vaginal discharge[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Visual impairment, chalazion, blepharitis, dry eye syndrome, eye irritation, visual disturbance, xerophthalmia, cytomegalovirus retinitis[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Acute myeloid leukemia, papillomatosis, tumor[Ref]


Frequency not reported: Nephrolithiasis, acute renal insufficiency[Ref]


Rare (less than 0.1%): Hyperprolactinemia
Frequency not reported: Increased TSH[Ref]


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Not all side effects for Fortovase may be reported. You should always consult a doctor or healthcare professional for medical advice. Side effects can be reported to the FDA here.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.