GENERIC NAME: lopinavir and ritonavir
BRAND NAME: Kaletra
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Kaletra is an oral medication that is a combination of lopinavir and ritonavir. It is used for treating infections with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It is in a class of drugs called protease inhibitors which, among others, includes ritonavir (Norvir), nelfinavir (Viracept) and saquinavir (Invirase, Fortovase). Although both lopinavir and ritonavir inhibit the HIV virus, they are combined in Kaletra because ritonavir increases the concentration of lopinavir in the body. In fact, the activity of Kaletra against HIV is due to the lopinavir because the amount of ritonavir in Kaletra is not enough to inhibit the HIV virus. During infection with HIV, the HIV virus multiplies within the body's cells. Viruses are released from the cells and spread throughout the body where they infect other cells. In this manner, HIV infection is perpetuated among new cells that the body produces continually. During the production of the viruses, new proteins for the viruses are made. Some of the proteins are structural proteins, that, is, proteins that form the body of the virus. Other proteins are enzymes which manufacture DNA and other components for the new viruses. Protease is the enzyme that forms the new structural proteins and enzymes. The lopinavir in Kaletra blocks the action of protease and results in the formation of defective viruses that are unable to infect the body's cells. As a result, the number of viruses in the body (the viral load) decreases. Nevertheless, Kaletra does not prevent the transmission of HIV among individuals, and it does not cure HIV infections or AIDS. Kaletra was approved by the FDA in September 2000.
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