Saquinavir, used in combination with ritonavir and other HIV medications, is used to help control HIV infection. It helps to decrease the amount of HIV in your body so your immune system can work better. This lowers your chance of getting HIV complications (such as new infections, cancer) and improves your quality of life.
Saquinavir belongs to a class of drugs known as protease inhibitors. It must be given with ritonavir, another protease inhibitor, to increase ("boost") the levels of saquinavir. This helps saquinavir work better.
Saquinavir is not a cure for HIV infection. To decrease your risk of spreading HIV disease to others, do all of the following: (1) continue to take all HIV medications exactly as prescribed by your doctor, (2) always use an effective barrier method (latex or polyurethane condoms/dental dams) during all sexual activity, and (3) do not share personal items (such as needles/syringes, toothbrushes, and razors) that may have contacted blood or other body fluids. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
To reduce your risk of side effects, your doctor may direct you to start saquinavir at a low dose and gradually increase your dose. Follow your doctor's instructions carefully.
The dosage is based on your medical condition, response to treatment, and other medications you may be taking. Be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
This medication works best when the amount of drug in your body is kept at a constant level. Therefore, take this drug at evenly spaced intervals. To help you remember, take it at the same times each day.
It is very important to continue taking this medication (and other HIV medications) exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take more or less of this drug than prescribed or stop taking it (or other HIV medicines) even for a short time unless directed to do so by your doctor. Skipping or changing your dose without approval from your doctor may cause the amount of virus to increase, make the infection more difficult to treat, or worsen side effects.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
As your immune system gets stronger, it can begin to fight off infections you already had, possibly causing disease symptoms to come back. You could also have symptoms if your immune system becomes overactive. This reaction may happen at any time (soon after starting HIV treatment or many months later). Get medical help right away if you have any serious symptoms, including: unexplained weight loss, severe tiredness, muscle aches/weakness that doesn't go away, headaches that are severe or don't go away, joint pain, numbness/tingling of the hands/feet/arms/legs, vision changes, signs of infection (such as fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, trouble breathing, cough, non-healing skin sores), signs of an overactive thyroid (such as irritability, nervousness, heat intolerance, fast/pounding/irregular heartbeat, bulging eyes, unusual growth in the neck/thyroid known as a goiter), signs of a certain nerve problem known as Guillain-Barre syndrome (such as trouble breathing/swallowing/moving your eyes, drooping face, paralysis, trouble speaking).
Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, such as: symptoms of a heart attack (such as chest/jaw/left arm pain, shortness of breath, unusual sweating), fast/slow/irregular heartbeat, severe dizziness, fainting, persistent nausea/vomiting, stomach/abdominal pain, dark urine, yellowing eyes/skin.
This medication may rarely make your blood sugar rise, which can cause or worsen diabetes. Tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms of high blood sugar such as increased thirst/urination. If you already have diabetes, check your blood sugar regularly as directed and share the results with your doctor. Your doctor may need to adjust your diabetes medication, exercise program, or diet.
Changes in body fat may occur while you are taking this medication (such as increased fat in the upper back and stomach areas, decreased fat in the arms and legs). The cause and long-term effects of these changes are unknown. Discuss the risks and benefits of treatment with your doctor, as well as the possible use of exercise to reduce this side effect.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US -
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before taking saquinavir, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Saquinavir may cause a condition that affects the heart rhythm (QT prolongation). QT prolongation can rarely cause serious (rarely fatal) fast/irregular heartbeat and other symptoms (such as severe dizziness, fainting) that need medical attention right away.
The risk of QT prolongation may be increased if you have certain medical conditions or are taking other drugs that may cause QT prolongation. Before using saquinavir, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the drugs you take and if you have any of the following conditions: certain heart problems (heart failure, slow heartbeat, QT prolongation in the EKG), family history of certain heart problems (QT prolongation in the EKG, sudden cardiac death).
Low levels of potassium or magnesium in the blood may also increase your risk of QT prolongation. This risk may increase if you use certain drugs (such as diuretics/"water pills") or if you have conditions such as severe sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting. Talk to your doctor about using saquinavir safely.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially QT prolongation (see above).
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant before using this medication.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
Some products that may interact with this drug include: orlistat, trazodone, certain benzodiazepines (midazolam, triazolam), ergot alkaloids (such as dihydroergotamine, ergonovine, ergotamine, methylergonovine), garlic supplements, ranolazine, rifamycins (such as rifampin, rifapentine), certain "statin" cholesterol drugs (simvastatin, lovastatin), St. John's wort.
Many drugs besides saquinavir may affect the heart rhythm (QT prolongation), including quinidine, pimozide, propafenone, cisapride, amiodarone, dofetilide, flecainide, salmeterol, clarithromycin, erythromycin, pentamidine, tacrolimus, among others.
Other medications can affect the removal of saquinavir from your body, which may affect how saquinavir works. Examples include other HIV protease inhibitors (such as atazanavir, indinavir, nelfinavir, tipranavir), cobicistat, among others.
Saquinavir can slow down the removal of other medications from your body, which may affect how they work. Examples of affected drugs include asunaprevir, dapsone, lurasidone, drugs to treat erectile dysfunction-ED or pulmonary hypertension (such as sildenafil, vardenafil, tadalafil), isavuconazonium, naloxegol, rivaroxaban, suvorexant, among others.
This medication may decrease the effectiveness of hormonal birth control such as pills, patch, or ring. This could cause pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about additional or alternative reliable forms of birth control, and always use an effective barrier method (latex or polyurethane condoms/dental dams) during all sexual activity to decrease the risk of spreading HIV to others. Tell your doctor if you have any new spotting or breakthrough bleeding, because these may be signs that your hormonal birth control is not working well.
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
Lab and/or medical tests (such as viral load, triglycerides/cholesterol, EKG, blood sugar, T-cell count) should be done before you start taking this medication and while you are taking it. Keep all medical and lab appointments. Consult your doctor for more details.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip themissed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.Information last revised December 2016. Copyright(c) 2016 First Databank, Inc.
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