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An Overview of Invirase (Saquinavir mesylate)

August 23, 2013

sack-KWIN-uh-vihr MEH-sih-LATE

Invirase 500mg PillSaquinavir 0245

Brand Name: Invirase
Other Names: SQV, saquinavir mesylate
Drug Class: Protease Inhibitors
Approved Use: Treatment of HIV Infection


Saquinavir can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include heart rhythm problems and liver problems.

Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that may signal heart rhythm problems:

  • Dizziness.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Fainting.
  • Sensation of abnormal heartbeats.
Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that may signal liver problems:

  • Loss of appetite.
  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice).
  • Dark-colored urine.
  • Light-colored bowel movements.
  • Itchy skin.
  • Pain in the stomach area.

Taking saquinavir together with certain medicines can cause serious and/or life-threatening side effects.

While taking saquinavir, it is important to keep all of your appointments with your health care provider.

What is saquinavir?

Saquinavir is a prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of HIV infection in people 16 years of age and older. Saquinavir is always used in combination with the anti-HIV medicine ritonavir (brand name: Norvir) and other anti-HIV medicines.

Saquinavir is a type of anti-HIV medicine called a protease inhibitor (PI). Saquinavir works by blocking protease, an HIV enzyme. This prevents HIV from replicating and lowers the amount of HIV in the blood.

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

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

Before taking saquinavir, tell your health care provider:

  • If you are allergic to saquinavir or any other medicines.
  • If you have any heart problems, including congenital long QT syndrome.
  • If you have diabetes.
  • If you have liver problems, including hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.
  • If you have hemophilia.
  • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Whether saquinavir 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 saquinavir.
  • About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Saquinavir may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how saquinavir works. Taking saquinavir together with certain medicines or products may cause serious and/or life-threatening side effects.

How should I take saquinavir?

Saquinavir comes in two forms:

  • 200-mg hard-gel capsules (brand name: Invirase).
  • 500-mg film-coated tablets (brand name: Invirase).

(A 200-mg soft-gel capsule form of saquinavir was formerly sold under the brand name Fortovase. Sale of Fortovase was discontinued in February 2006.)

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

Take saquinavir at the same time that you take the anti-HIV medicine ritonavir (brand name: Norvir). Take saquinavir, along with ritonavir, with a full meal or up to 2 hours after a meal.

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

If you take too much saquinavir, 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 saquinavir, see the FDA drug labelfrom DailyMed. (DailyMed is a federal website that includes the most recent drug labels submitted to FDA.)

What should I do if I forget a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. But if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and just take your next dose at the regular time. Do not take two doses at the same time to make up for a missed dose.

What side effects can saquinavir cause?

Saquinavir can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include heart rhythm problems and liver problems. (See the WARNING above.)

Other possible side effects of saquinavir include:

  • Diabetes and high blood sugar (hyperglycemia).
  • Changes in body fat (lipodystrophy).
  • Changes in the immune system (immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome).
  • Increases in cholesterol and triglycerides (hyperlipidemia).
  • Increased bleeding in people with hemophilia.

Tell your health care provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

These are not all the possible side effects of saquinavir. Ask your health care provider or pharmacist for more information on possible side effects of saquinavir.

How should saquinavir be stored?

  • Store saquinavir at room temperature, 59°F to 86°F (15°C to 30°C).
  • Keep saquinavir in a tightly closed container.
  • Safely throw away saquinavir that is no longer needed or expired (out of date).
  • Keep saquinavir and all medicines out of reach of children.

Where can I find more information about saquinavir?

More information about saquinavir is available:

Manufacturer Information

Hoffman-La Roche

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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 Invirase (Saquinavir)