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Saquinavir

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

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on Oct 9, 2020 – Written by Cerner Multum

What is saquinavir?

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

Saquinavir is used together with ritonavir to treat HIV, the virus that can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Neither saquinavir nor ritonavir will not cure HIV or AIDS.

Saquinavir may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

You should not take saquinavir if you have certain serious heart problems, severe liver disease, low blood levels of potassium or magnesium, or if you have taken rilpivirine in the past 2 weeks.

Saquinavir must be taken together with another medicine called ritonavir.

Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using. Many drugs can interact, and some drugs should not be used together.

Saquinavir 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.

Before taking this medicine

You should not take saquinavir if you are allergic to it, 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;

  • if you also take medicine that contains cobicistat; or

  • if you have taken rilpivirine in the past 2 weeks.

Life-threatening side effects may occur if you take saquinavir and ritonavir with certain other medicines. Your doctor may change your treatment plan if you also use:

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • heart disease;

  • liver disease (including hepatitis B or C);

  • hemophilia (a bleeding disorder);

  • cirrhosis, alcoholism;

  • diabetes; or

  • hereditary galactose intolerance, severe lactase deficiency, or glucose-galactose malabsorption.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, and use your medications properly to control your infection. HIV can be passed to your baby if the virus is not controlled during pregnancy. Your name may be listed on a registry to track any effects of antiviral medicine on the baby.

Saquinavir can make birth control pills less effective. Ask your doctor about using a non-oral birth control to prevent pregnancy. This includes injections, implants, skin patches, vaginal rings, condom, diaphragm, cervical cap, or contraceptive sponge.

Women with HIV or AIDS should not breastfeed 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 and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Saquinavir 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. Take the medicine at the same times each day.

You will need frequent medical tests.

Use all HIV medications as directed and read all medication guides you receive. Do not change your dose or stop using a medicine without your doctor's advice. Every person with HIV 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 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 saquinavir?

Using saquinavir may not prevent your disease from spreading. 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.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • 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; 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 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.

What other drugs will affect saquinavir?

Many drugs can affect saquinavir, and some drugs should not be used at the same time. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed here.

Further information

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.