GENERIC NAME: nelfinavir
BRAND NAME: Viracept
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Nelfinavir is an oral medication that is used for treating infections with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It is in a class of drugs called protease inhibitors that also includes indinavir (Crixivan), amprenavir (Agenerase), ritonavir (Norvir) and saquinavir (Invirase, Fortovase). 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 continually produces. During the production of the viruses, new proteins 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. Nelfinavir blocks the activity 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, nelfinavir does not prevent the transmission of HIV among individuals, and it does not cure HIV infections or AIDS. Nelfinavir was approved by the FDA in March 1997.
Quick GuideHIV AIDS Facts: Symptoms and Treatments
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Need help identifying pills and medications?
Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.