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Invirase

Generic Name: saquinavir (sa KWIN a veer)
Brand Names: Invirase

Medically reviewed on May 16, 2018.

What is Invirase?

Invirase (saquinavir) is an antiviral medicine that prevents human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from multiplying in your body.

Invirase is used together with ritonavir to treat HIV, the virus that can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Neither Invirase nor ritonavir will not cure HIV or AIDS.

Important Information

You should not take Invirase if you have certain serious heart problems, severe liver disease, low blood levels of potassium or magnesium, or if you also take medicine that contains cobicistat.

Invirase must be taken together with another medicine called ritonavir.

Many drugs can interact with saquinavir, and some drugs should not be used together. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with Invirase.

Life-threatening side effects may occur if you take Invirase with: alfuzosin, amiodarone, cisapride, dofetilide, flecainide, lidocaine, lovastatin, midazolam, pimozide, propafenone, quinidine, rifampin, sildenafil (Revatio, for treating pulmonary arterial hypertension), simvastatin, trazodone, triazolam, or an ergot medicine such as Ergomar, Cafergot, Ergotrate, Migranal, or Methergine.

Invirase can cause serious heart rhythm problems. Call your doctor at once if you have fast or pounding heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, shortness of breath, and sudden dizziness.

Taking this medication will not prevent you from passing HIV to other people. Avoid having unprotected sex or sharing razors or toothbrushes. Talk with your doctor about safe ways to prevent HIV transmission during sex. Sharing drug or medicine needles is never safe, even for a healthy person.

Before taking this medicine

You should not take Invirase if you are allergic to saquinavir, or if you have:

  • a serious heart condition called "AV block" (unless you have a pacemaker);

  • long QT syndrome (in you or a family member);

  • severe liver disease;

  • low levels of potassium or magnesium in your blood; or

  • if you also take medicine that contains cobicistat.

Life-threatening side effects may occur if you take Invirase with:

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

HIV can be passed to your baby if you are not properly treated during pregnancy. Take all of your HIV medicines as directed to control your infection.

If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry to track the effects of saquinavir on the baby.

Saquinavir can make birth control pills less effective. Ask your doctor about using non hormonal birth control (condom, diaphragm with spermicide) to prevent pregnancy.

Women with HIV or AIDS should not breast-feed a baby. Even if your baby is born without HIV, the virus may be passed to the baby in your breast milk.

Invirase is not approved for use by anyone younger than 16 years old.

How should I take Invirase?

Take Invirase exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets.

Invirase must be taken together with ritonavir and it should not be used alone.

Take your medicine with food or within 2 hours after eating a full meal.

If you cannot swallow an Invirase capsule whole, open the capsule and sprinkle the contents into a spoonful of jam or sugar syrup (use sorbitol if you are diabetic). Stir for about a minute and allow it to reach room temperature. Swallow the mixture right away without chewing. Do not save it for later use.

You will need frequent medical tests.

HIV is often treated with a combination of drugs. Use all medications as directed and read all medication guides you receive. Do not change your dose or dosing schedule without your doctor's advice. Every person with HIV should remain under the care of a doctor.

Store Invirase at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Keep the bottle tightly closed when not in use.

Invirase dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for HIV Infection:

saquinavir 1000 mg plus ritonavir 100 mg orally twice a day

Comments:
-No additional ritonavir is recommended when saquinavir is administered with lopinavir 400 mg-ritonavir 100 mg twice a day.
-Unboosted saquinavir is not recommended by the manufacturer or the DHHS Panel on Clinical Practices for Treatment of HIV Infection due to low bioavailability.

Usual Adult Dose for Nonoccupational Exposure:

(Not approved by FDA)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations:
saquinavir 1000 mg plus ritonavir 100 mg orally twice a day
-or-
saquinavir 400 mg plus ritonavir 400 mg orally twice a day

Duration: 28 days

Comments:
-Prophylaxis should be initiated as soon as possible, within 72 hours of exposure.
-saquinavir plus ritonavir plus 2 NRTIs is one of the alternative regimens recommended for nonoccupational postexposure HIV prophylaxis.

Usual Pediatric Dose for HIV Infection:

16 years or older: saquinavir1000 mg plus ritonavir 100 mg orally twice a day

Comments:
-No additional ritonavir is recommended when saquinavir is administered with lopinavir 400 mg-ritonavir 100 mg twice a day.
-Unboosted saquinavir is not recommended by the manufacturer or the DHHS Panel on Clinical Practices for Treatment of HIV Infection due to low bioavailability.

See also: Dosage Information (in more detail)

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.

Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely. Skipping doses may increase the risk of your virus becoming resistant to antiviral medicine.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking Invirase?

Taking Invirase will not prevent you from passing HIV to other people. Do not have unprotected sex or share razors or toothbrushes. Talk with your doctor about safe ways to prevent HIV transmission during sex. Sharing drug or medicine needles is never safe, even for a healthy person.

Invirase side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to Invirase: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • cough with mucus, chest pain, wheezing, and shortness of breath;

  • heart rhythm problems - fast or pounding heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, shortness of breath, sudden dizziness (like you might pass out);

  • high blood sugar - increased thirst, increased urination, dry mouth, fruity breath odor, headache, blurred vision; or

  • liver problems - upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Saquinavir affects your immune system, which may cause certain side effects (even weeks or months after you've taken this medicine). Tell your doctor if you have:

  • signs of a new infection - fever, night sweats, swollen glands, cold sores, cough, wheezing, diarrhea, weight loss;

  • trouble speaking or swallowing, problems with balance or eye movement, weakness or prickly feeling; or

  • swelling in your neck or throat (enlarged thyroid), menstrual changes, impotence.

Common Invirase side effects may include:

  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain;

  • tired feeling; or

  • changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your arms, legs, face, neck, breasts, and waist).

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect Invirase?

Many drugs can interact with saquinavir or ritonavir, and some drugs should not be used together. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Invirase only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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