Generic Name: saquinavir (sa KWIN a veer)
Brand Name: Invirase
Medically reviewed: May 13, 2016
What is saquinavir?
Saquinavir is an antiviral medicine that prevents human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from multiplying in your body.
Saquinavir may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Saquinavir must be taken together with another medicine called ritonavir.
Life-threatening side effects may occur if you take saquinavir with certain other medicines. Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with saquinavir.
Before taking this medicine
a serious heart condition called "AV block" (unless you have a pacemaker);
personal or family history of long QT syndrome;
severe liver disease; or
low levels of potassium or magnesium in your blood.
Life-threatening side effects may occur if you take saquinavir with:
To make sure saquinavir is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
liver disease (including hepatitis B or C);
a bleeding or blood clotting disorder such as hemophilia;
high cholesterol or triglycerides.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. 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. This is to track the outcome of the pregnancy and to evaluate any effects of saquinavir on the baby.
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.
Saquinavir is not approved for use by anyone younger than 16 years old.
How should I take saquinavir?
Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Read all patient information, medication guides, and instruction sheets provided to you. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
Take your medicine with food or within 2 hours after eating a full meal.
To make swallowing easier, you may open the saquinavir capsule and sprinkle the medicine into 1 tablespoon of jam or sugar syrup (use sorbitol if you are diabetic). Stir the mixture for about a minute and allow it to reach room temperature. Swallow the mixture right away without chewing. Do not save the mixture for later use.
While using saquinavir, you may need frequent blood tests.
Use saquinavir regularly to get the most benefit. Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely.
HIV/AIDS is usually treated with a combination of drugs. Use all medications as directed by your doctor. Read the medication guide or patient instructions provided with each medication. Do not change your doses or medication schedule without your doctor's advice. Every person with HIV or AIDS should remain under the care of a doctor.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Keep the bottle tightly closed when not in use.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
Try not to miss any of your doses. 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 saquinavir?
Taking this medicine 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.
Saquinavir side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Saquinavir may increase your risk of certain infections or autoimmune disorders by changing the way your immune system works. Symptoms may occur weeks or months after you start treatment with saquinavir. Tell your doctor if you have:
chest pain (especially when you breathe), dry cough, wheezing, feeling short of breath;
cold sores, sores on your genital or anal area;
rapid heart rate, feeling anxious or irritable, weakness or prickly feeling, problems with balance or eye movement;
trouble speaking or swallowing, severe lower back pain, loss of bladder or bowel control; or
swelling in your neck or throat (enlarged thyroid), menstrual changes, impotence, loss of interest in sex.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
any type of infection, skin infection, or open sores;
cough with yellow or green mucus, stabbing chest pain, wheezing, feeling short of breath;
high blood sugar--increased thirst, increased urination, hunger, dry mouth, fruity breath odor, drowsiness, dry skin, blurred vision, weight loss; or
Common 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 saquinavir?
Many drugs can interact with saquinavir, and some drugs should not be used together. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:
any other antiviral medicines to treat hepatitis or HIV;
an antibiotic or antifungal medicine;
an herbal supplement, especially garlic or St. John's wort;
heart or blood pressure medication;
medicine to prevent organ transplant rejection;
medicine to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension;
This list is not complete and many other drugs can interact with saquinavir. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Give a list of all your medicines to any healthcare provider who treats you. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication 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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