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An Overview of Viramune (Nevirapine)

August 23, 2013

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NevirapineNevirapine Oral

Brand Name: Viramune XR, Viramune
Other Name(s): NVP, extended-release nevirapine
Drug Class: Non-nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
Approved Use: Treatment of HIV Infection


Nevirapine can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include severe liver problems, skin rash, and skin reactions. The liver and skin problems can happen at any time during treatment, but the time of greatest risk is during the first 18 weeks of treatment.

Stop taking nevirapine and call your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that may signal liver problems:

  • Dark-colored urine.
  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.
  • Light-colored bowel movements.
  • Fever.
  • Nausea.
  • Feel unwell or like you have the flu.
  • Pain or tenderness on your right side below your ribs.
  • Tiredness.
  • Loss of appetite.

Stop taking nevirapine and contact your health care provider right away if you have a skin rash with any of the following symptoms:

  • Blisters.
  • Mouth sores.
  • Red or inflamed eyes like "pink eye" (conjunctivitis).
  • Liver problems (see symptoms of liver problems above).
  • Swelling of your face.
  • Feel unwell or like you have the flu.
  • Tiredness.
  • Muscle or joint aches.

While taking nevirapine, it is important to keep all of your appointments with your health care provider. If your health care provider tells you to stop treatment with nevirapine because of serious liver or skin problems, you should never take nevirapine again.

What is nevirapine?

Nevirapine is a prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of HIV infection in adults and children. Nevirapine is always used in combination with other anti-HIV medicines.

Nevirapine is a type of anti-HIV medicine called a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI). NNRTIs work by binding to and blocking HIV reverse transcriptase, an HIV enzyme. This prevents HIV from replicating and lowers the amount of HIV in the blood.

Nevirapine does not cure HIV/AIDS. It is not known if nevirapine reduces the risk of passing HIV to other people.

What should I tell my health care provider before taking nevirapine?

Before taking nevirapine, tell your health care provider:

  • If you are allergic to nevirapine or any other medicines.
  • If you have or have had hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) or problems with your liver.
  • If you are receiving dialysis therapy.
  • If you have skin problems, such as rash.
  • About any other medical problems (including past medical problems).
  • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Whether nevirapine can harm an unborn baby is unknown.
  • If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you are infected with HIV or are taking nevirapine.
  • About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Nevirapine may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how nevirapine works. Taking nevirapine together with certain medicines or products may cause serious side effects.

How should I take nevirapine?

Nevirapine comes in the following forms and strengths:

  • 200-mg immediate-release tablets (brand name: Viramune).
  • 100-mg extended-release tablets (brand name: Viramune XR).
  • 400-mg extended-release tablets (brand name: Viramune XR).
  • 50-mg/5 mL oral suspension (brand name: Viramune).

Take nevirapine according to your health care provider's instructions.

To reduce the risk of skin rash, a low dose of nevirapine is given for the first 14 days of treatment. If you get a skin rash during the first 14 days of nevirapine treatment, call your health care provider right away. Do not increase your nevirapine dose.

Take nevirapine with or without food. Never take more than one form of nevirapine at the same time.

Nevirapine extended-release tablets are not recommended for children less than 6 years of age. The extended-release tablets should be swallowed whole and should not be chewed, crushed, or divided.

Nevirapine oral suspension is a liquid. Shake it gently before each use, and use an oral dosing syringe or dosing cup to measure the right dose. If the dose is less than 1 teaspoon (5 mL), use a syringe to measure the dose. (Ask your pharmacist for a syringe or dosing cup if you do not have one.) After drinking the medicine, fill the dosing cup with water and drink it to make sure you get all the medicine.

Always take nevirapine in combination with other anti-HIV medicines.

If you take too much nevirapine, contact your local poison control center (1-800-222-1222) or go to the nearest hospital emergency room right away.

For more information on how to take nevirapine, see the FDA drug labels for nevirapine immediate-release tablets (brand name: Viramune), nevirapine extended-release tablets (brand name: Viramune XR), and nevirapine oral suspension (brand name: Viramune), from DailyMed. (DailyMed is a federal website that includes the most recent drug labels submitted to FDA.)

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This article was provided by AIDSinfo. Visit the AIDSinfo website to find out more about their activities and publications.
See Also
More on HIV Medications
More on Viramune (Nevirapine)