saquinavir, Invirase (Fortovase - discontinued)

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GENERIC NAME: saquinavir

BRAND NAME: Invirase (Fortovase has been discontinued)

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Saquinavir 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 which also includes indinavir (Crixivan), nelfinavir (Viracept) and ritonavir (Norvir). 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 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. Saquinavir 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, saquinavir does not prevent the transmission of HIV among individuals, and it does not cure HIV infections or AIDS. Saquinavir was approved by the FDA in December 1995.




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