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- What is saquinavir, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for saquinavir?
- Is saquinavir available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for saquinavir?
- What are the side effects of saquinavir?
- What is the dosage for saquinavir?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with saquinavir?
- Is saquinavir safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about saquinavir?
What is saquinavir, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
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.
What are the side effects of saquinavir?
The most frequent side effects are:
Other imortant side effects of Saquinavir include:
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What is the dosage for saquinavir?
The recommended dose of Invirase for adults is 600 mg three times daily. Invirase should be administered within 2 hours of a meal.
Which drugs or supplements interact with saquinavir?
Saquinavir interacts with many drugs. Some of the important interactions are mentioned below. Viewers should consult their health care provider before combining any drugs with saquinavir.
Saquinavir should not be used together with triazolam (Halcion), midazolam (Versed), sildenafil (Viagra) and ergotamine derivatives (for example, Ergostat) because saquinavir increases the concentration of these drugs in the body and this could cause serious side effects.
Saquinavir also may inhibit the break-down of the cholesterol-lowering drugs lovastatin (Mevacor), simvastatin (Zocor), atorvastatin (Lipitor) and cerivastatin (Baycol). Combining saquinavir with these drugs may increase the occurrence of muscle breakdown (rhabdomyolysis) which is seen when these drugs accumulate in the body.
Clarithromycin (Biaxin) and ketoconazole (Nizoral) may increase blood concentrations of saquinavir and cause increased severity or frequency of side effects from saquinavir. Saquinavir also increases the concentration of clarithromycin.
The combination of saquinavir and ritonavir should not be combined with rifampin due to the risk of severe liver damage.
When digoxin is taken by patients receiving saquinavir (Invirase) with ritonavir (Norvir), the amount of digoxin (Lanoxin) in the body can increase by 50%, possibly leading to side effects such as potentially fatal rhythm disturbances, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, blurred or yellow vision; headache; weakness; dizziness; apathy; confusion; and mental disturbances such as anxiety, depression, delirium, and hallucinations.
Is saquinavir safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Use of saquinavir during pregnancy has not been adequately evaluated.
It is not known whether saquinavir is secreted in breast milk. Nevertheless, HIV-infected mothers should not breast-feed because of the potential risk of transmitting HIV to an infant that is not infected.
What else should I know about saquinavir?
What preparations of saquinavir are available?
Tablets: 500 mg; Capsules: 200 mg
How should I keep saquinavir stored?
Store Invirase capsules at room temperature, 15 C - 30 C (59 F - 86 F).
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information
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Drugs: What You Should Know About Your DrugsImportant information about your drugs should be reviewed prior to taking any prescription drug. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precauctions, dosage, what the drug is used for, what to do if you miss a dose, how the drug is to be stored, and generic vs. brand names.
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indinavirIndinavir (Crixivan) is a medication prescribed for the treatment of infections with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Side effects, dosing, and in particular, drug interactions should be discussed with our health care professional prior to taking this medication.
lopinavir and ritonavirLopinavir and ritonavir (Kaletra) is a drug that is a combination of lopinavir and ritonavir that is prescribed to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Side effects , drug interactions, pregnancy information, and warnings and precautions should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
nelfinavirNelfinavir (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.
Protease Inhibitors (PI) Drug Class
Protease Inhibitors (PIs) are a class of antiviral drugs prescribed to treat HIV and hepatitis (HCV) viral infections. There are several protease inhibitors that treat HIV infection, for example:
- Lexiva (fosamprenavir)
- Invirase (saquinavir)
- Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir)
- Viracept (nelfinavir)
- Norvir (ritonavir)
Examples of hepatitis C virus protease inhibitors include:
- Olysio (simeprevir)
- Technivie (ombitasvir/paritaprevir and ritonavir, a combination of these three drugs)
- Viekira Pak (ombitasvir/paritaprevir/ritonavir and dasabuvir, a combination of these four drugs)
Drug interactions, dosage, preparations, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety should be reviewed prior to taking these drugs.
ritonavirRitonavir (Norvir) is a drug used in combination with other drugs for the treatment of HIV infection. Side effects, drug interactions, and dosing information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.