GENERIC NAME: nevirapine
BRAND NAME: Viramune, Viramune XR
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Nevirapine is an oral medication that is used for the treatment of infections with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It is in a class of drugs called reverse transcriptase inhibitors that also includes zalcitabine (Hivid), zidovudine (Retrovir), didanosine (Videx), and lamivudine (Epivir). It is in a subclass of protease inhibitors called nonnucleoside protease inhibitors that includes efavirenz (Sustiva) and delavirdine (Rescriptor). During infection with HIV, the HIV virus multiplies within the body's cells. The newly-formed viruses then are released from the cells and spread throughout the body where they infect other cells. In this manner, the infection spreads to new, uninfected cells that the body is continually producing, and HIV infection is perpetuated. When producing new viruses, the HIV virus must manufacture new DNA for each virus. Reverse transcriptase is the enzyme that the virus uses to form this new DNA. Nevirapine directly inhibits the activity of reverse transcriptase and blocks the production of DNA and new viruses. Nevirapine does not kill existing HIV virus and it is not a cure for HIV. The FDA approved nevirapine in September 1996.
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