Protease Inhibitors (PI Drug Class)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

What are protease inhibitors (PIs), and how do they work?

Protease inhibitors (PIs) are antiviral drugs used for treating human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections.

During infection with HIV or hepatitis C, the HIV or HCV multiply 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 and hepatitis C infection is perpetuated among new cells that the body produces continually. During the production of the viruses, new proteins are made. Some of the proteins are structural proteins that form the body of the virus. Other proteins are enzymes that manufacture DNA and other components for the new viruses. Protease is an enzyme that is used in the formation of new structural proteins and enzymes. Protease inhibitors block the activity of protease (cleavage of protein precursors needed for viral structure synthesis) and this results in the formation of defective viruses that are unable to infect the body's cells. As a result, the number of HIV or hepatitis C viruses in the body (the viral load) decreases.

List of 16 examples of brand and generic names available for protease inhibitors (PIs) in the US

HIV protease inhibitors

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) protease inhibitors

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/5/2017

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Hepatitis C (Hep C) Symptoms and Treatment
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