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- What is nelfinavir, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for nelfinavir?
- Is nelfinavir available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for nelfinavir?
- What are the side effects of nelfinavir?
- What is the dosage for nelfinavir?
- Is nelfinavir safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about nelfinavir?
What is nelfinavir, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
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.
What are the side effects of nelfinavir?
The most common side effects are
Other important side effects Nelfinavir include:
Nelfinavir oral powder contains phenylalanine and should be avoided by individuals with phenylketonuria. Like other protease inhibitors, use of nelfinavir may be associated with redistribution or accumulation of body fat, increased cholesterol and worsening of diabetes. Immune reconstitution syndrome, an inflammatory response to infection, may occur in patients treated with combinations of drugs for the treatment of HIV infection. There have been reports of spontaneous bleeding in patients with hemophilia treated with protease inhibitors.
What is the dosage for nelfinavir?
The recommended dose for adults and adolescents 13 years and older is 1250 mg twice daily or 750 mg three times daily. The recommended dose for children 2-13 years of age is 25-35 mg/kg three times daily or 45 to 55 mg/kg twice daily. Nelfinavir should be administered with food or a light snack. The tablets may be crushed and dissolved in water or mixed with food. Once mixed in water or food, the mixture should be consumed within 6 hours.
Is nelfinavir safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
It is not known whether nelfinavir is secreted in breast milk. Nevertheless, HIV-infected mothers should not breastfeed because of the potential risk of transmitting HIV to an infant that is not infected.
What else should I know about nelfinavir?
What preparations of nelfinavir are available?
Tablets: 250 and 625 mg; Oral powder: 50 mg/g
How should I keep nelfinavir stored?
Capsules and powder should be stored at room temperature, 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F). The oral powder should be consumed within 6 hours after mixing it with water or other liquids.
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Nelfinavir (Viracept) is a drug prescribed to be used in combination with other anti-HIV drugs to treat HIV infection. Side effects, drug interactions, dosage, and pregnancy safety should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
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Related Disease Conditions
AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)
AIDS is the advanced stage of HIV infection. Symptoms and signs of AIDS include pneumonia due to Pneumocystis jiroveci, tuberculosis, toxoplasmosis, seizures, weakness, meningitis, yeast infection of the esophagus, and Kaposi's sarcoma. Anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) is used in the treatment of AIDS.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection left untreated causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Still incurable, AIDS describes immune system collapse that opens the way for opportunistic infections and cancers to kill the patient. Early symptoms and signs of HIV infection include flu-like symptoms and fungal infections, but some people may not show any symptoms for years. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the standard treatment for HIV infection. These combination drug regimens have made HIV much less deadly, but a cure or vaccine for the pandemic remains out of reach. HIV is usually transmitted through sexual contact or sharing IV drug needles, but can also infect someone through contact with infected blood. Sexual abstinence, safe sex practices, quitting IV drugs (or at least using clean needles), and proper safety equipment by clinicians and first responders can drastically reduce transmission rates for HIV/AIDS.
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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.