Why is this medication prescribed?
Saquinavir is used in combination with other medications to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in patients with or without acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Saquinavir is in a class of antiviral medications called protease (pro' tee ace) inhibitors. It works by slowing the spread of HIV infection in the body. Saquinavir is not a cure and may not decrease the number of HIV-related illnesses. Saquinavir does not prevent the spread of HIV to other people.
How should this medicine be used?
Saquinavir comes as a hard gelatin capsule (Invirase) and a soft gelatin capsule (Fortovase) to take by mouth. The hard gelatin capsule is usually taken three times a day within 2 hours after a full meal. The soft gelatin capsule is usually taken three times a day with a meal or up to 2 hours after a meal. To help you remember to take saquinavir, take it around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take saquinavir exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Saquinavir controls HIV infection but does not cure it. Continue to take saquinavir even if you feel well. Do not stop taking saquinavir without talking to your doctor.
Other uses for this medicine
Saquinavir is also used (as an alternative to indinavir) to treat health-care workers and other individuals exposed to HIV infection after accidental contact with HIV-contaminated blood, tissues, or other body fluids. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this medication for your condition.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking saquinavir,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to saquinavir or any other medications.
- do not take astemizole (Hismanal); belladonna, phenobarbital, and ergotamine (Bellergal-S, Bel-Phen-Ergot S, Phenerbel-S); bromocriptine (Parlodel); cabergoline (Dostinex); cisapride (Propulsid); dihydroergotamine (Migranal); ergoloid mesylates (Germinal, Hydergine); ergonovine (Ergotrate); ergotamine (Cafergot, Wigraine); methylergonovine (Methergine); methysergide (Sansert); midazolam (Versed); terfenadine (Seldane); or triazolam (Halcion) while taking saquinavir.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, and nutritional supplements you are taking. Be sure to mention any of the following: calcium channel blockers such as amlodipine (Norvasc), diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor, Tiazac, others), felodipine (Plendil), isradipine (DynaCirc), nicardipine (Cardene), nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia), nimodipine (Nimotop), nisoldipine (Sular), and verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, Verelan); calcium channel blockers such as amlodipine (Norvasc), diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor, Tiazac, others), felodipine (Plendil), isradipine (DynaCirc), nicardipine (Cardene), nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia), nimodipine (Nimotop), nisoldipine (Sular), and verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, Verelan); carbamazepine (Tegretol); cholesterol-lowering medications (statins) such as atorvastatin (Lipitor), lovastatin (Mevacor), and simvastatin (Zocor); clarithromycin (Biaxin); clindamycin (Cleocin); dapsone (Avlosulfon); delavirdine(Rescriptor); dexamethasone (Decadron, Dexone); indinavir (Crixivan); insulin or oral medications for diabetes; nelfinavir (Viracept); nevirapine (Viramune), phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton); phenytoin (Dilantin); quinidine (Quinidex); rifabutin (Mycobutin); rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane); ritonavir (Norvir); and sildenafil (Viagra). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- tell your doctor what herbal products you are taking, especially St. John's wort.
- tell your doctor if you drink or have ever drunk large amounts of alcohol and if you have or have ever had diabetes, liver disease, or hemophilia.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking saquinavir, call your doctor immediately.
- you should plan to avoid unnecessary or prolonged exposure to sunlight and to wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Saquinavir may make your skin sensitive to sunlight.
- you should be aware that your body fat may increase or move to different areas of your body, such as your breasts and your upper back.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it, if it has been less than 2 hours since your last meal. If it has been more than 2 hours since your last meal, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Saquinavir may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- stomach pain
- upset stomach
- gas or bloating
- pain, burning, or tingling in the hands or feet
- excessive tiredness
Some side effects may be serious. The following symptoms are uncommon, but if you experience either of them, call your doctor immediately:
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
Saquinavir may increase the sugar level in your blood. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- dry mouth
- dry skin
- frequent urination
- loss of appetite
- trouble breathing
Saquinavir may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.
What storage conditions are needed for this medicine?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call your local poison controlcenter at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsedor is not breathing, call local emergency services at911.
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests before and during treatment to check your body's response to saquinavir.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.