Generic Name: nelfinavir, Oral tablet

Viracept

All Brands

  • Viracept
SECTION 1 of 4

Highlights for nelfinavir

Oral tablet
1

Viracept is an oral medication used in combination with other drugs to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.

2

Most side effects from Viracept are mild. Possible side effects include diarrhea, nausea, rash, and gas.

3

The usual adult dose is taken twice or three times per day. The medication should be taken with a meal.

4

If you have diabetes, Viracept could raise your blood sugar levels. If you don’t have diabetes, you could develop diabetes while taking this drug. Symptoms of diabetes may include thirst, fatigue, and weight loss.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Warning for liver disease

Don’t take Viracept if you have moderate or severe liver disease. You could have toxic side effects or your liver disease could get worse. Talk to your doctor before taking this drug.

Warning for hemophilia

Viracept can increase your risk for bleeding if you have hemophilia.

Warning for diabetes

If you have diabetes, Viracept could raise your blood sugar levels. If you don’t have diabetes, you could develop diabetes while taking this drug. Symptoms of diabetes may include thirst, fatigue, and weight loss.

Drug Features

Viracept is a prescription drug. It is available in these forms: oral tablet.

Viracept is used as part of a combination therapy. That means you will need to take it in combination with other drugs.

Why It's Used

Viracept is used in combination with other antiretroviral drugs to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. It doesn’t cure HIV, but it may help to control it.

More Details

How It Works

Viracept belongs to a class of drugs called protease inhibitors. A class of drugs refers to medications that work similarly. They are often used to treat similar conditions.

More Details

Why It's Used

Viracept is used in combination with other antiretroviral drugs to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. It doesn’t cure HIV, but it may help to control it.

Viracept is approved to treat HIV in adults and children aged 2 years and older.

How It Works

Viracept belongs to a class of drugs called protease inhibitors. A class of drugs refers to medications that work similarly. They are often used to treat similar conditions.

Protease inhibitors work to block an enzyme called HIV protease. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) needs this enzyme to insert its genetic material into your cells and multiply. By blocking this enzyme, Viracept may help to slow the progression of HIV.

SECTION 2 of 4

nelfinavir Side Effects

Oral tablet

Most Common Side Effects

The most common side effects that occur with Viracept include:

  • diarrhea

  • nausea

  • rash

  • gas

Serious Side Effects

If you experience any of these serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms are potentially life-threatening, or if you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

  • increased bleeding if you have hemophilia

  • immune reconstitution syndrome. Your recovering immune system may start fighting infections that are lying dormant in your body. Examples include fungal infections, pneumonia, or tuberculosis. Your doctor will need to treat these infections if this happens. It’s important that you keep taking your nevirapine even if you come down with an infection.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Viracept does not cause drowsiness.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 4

nelfinavir May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Viracept can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. That’s why your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. If you’re curious about how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: You can reduce your chances of drug interactions by having all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. That way, a pharmacist can check for possible drug interactions.

Some of these interactions are very serious, and can be life-threatening. Tell your doctor about every medication you’re taking.

Medications That Might Interact with This Drug

Acid-reducing drug
  • omeprazole (Prilosec)

Antibiotics
  • azithromycin (Zithromax)
  • rifabutin (Mycobutin)
  • rifampin (Rifadin)

Antidepressant
  • trazodone

Asthma and allergy drugs (inhaled)
  • fluticasone (Flonase, Flovent, Advair)
  • salmeterol (Serevent)

Blood thinner (anticoagulant)
  • warfarin (Coumadin)

Cholesterol-lowering drugs
  • atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • lovastatin (Advicor, Altoprev, Mevacor)
  • rosuvastatin (Crestor)
  • simvastatin (Zocor, Vytorin)

Enlarged prostate drug
  • alfuzosin (Uroxatral)

Epilepsy drugs
  • carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • phenobarbital
  • phenytoin (Dilantin)

Erectile dysfunction drugs
  • sildenafil (Viagra)
  • vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn)
  • tadalafil (Cialis, Adcirca)

Gastrointestinal motility drug (increases stomach emptying)
  • cisapride (Propulsid)

Gout drug
  • colchicine (Colcrys)

Heart drugs
  • amiodarone (Pacerone, Cordarone)
  • quinidine

Herbal supplement
  • St. John’s wort

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) drugs
  • delavirdine  (Rescriptor)
  • indinavir (Crixivan)
  • nevirapine (Viramune)
  • ritonavir (Norvir)
  • saquinavir (Invirase)

Migraine headache drugs (ergot drugs)
  • dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45, Migranal)
  • ergotamine tartrate (Cafergot, Wigraine)
  • methylergonovine (Methergine)

Oral contraceptives/ hormones
  • ethinyl estradiol
  • norethindrone

Pain drug
  • methadone

Posttransplant drugs (immunosuppressants)
  • cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral)
  • tacrolimus (Prograf, Astagraf XL)
  • sirolimus (rapamycin)

Psychiatric drug
  • quetiapine (Seroquel)

Pulmonary arterial hypertension drugs
  • bosentan (Tracleer)
  • sildenafil (Revatio)

Sleeping pills and sedatives
  • oral midazolam (Versed)
  • triazolam (Halcion)

Tourette syndrome drug
  • pimozide (Orap)

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

People with diabetes

If you have diabetes, your blood sugar levels could increase while you take this drug. You may need to test your blood sugar levels more often while taking this drug.

People with liver disease

Don’t take Viracept if you have moderate or severe liver disease. You could have toxic side effects or your liver disease could get worse. Talk to your doctor before taking this drug.

People with hemophilia

If you have hemophilia, you could have a higher risk of bleeding while taking this drug. Watch for signs of bleeding or bruising if you have hemophilia.

People with kidney disease

Your kidneys may filter out this drug more slowly, which could lead to increased drug levels and more side effects. Your doctor may change your dose or may prescribe a different drug.

Pregnant women

This is a pregnancy category B drug. That means two things:

  1. Studies of the drug in pregnant animals have not shown risk to the fetus.
  2. There aren’t enough studies done in pregnant women to show the drug poses a risk to the fetus. 

Viracept should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Women who are nursing

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, you shouldn’t breastfeed your infant if you have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). There is a risk of passing HIV to your baby. Additionally, animal studies showed that Viracept passes through breast milk.

For Children

Children may be curious about how the oral liquid tastes. If you take an oral liquid form of this drug, make sure to keep it away from children.

When to call the doctor

Call your doctor if you experience:

  • fever
  • weakness
  • chills
  • night sweats
  • sore throat
  • joint pain

These symptoms may be a sign the drug isn’t working, and you may need a different treatment.

Allergies

Drug hypersensitivity reactions are possible. See a doctor right away or call 9-1-1 if you experience:

  • severe rash
  • hives
  • wheezing
  • breathing problems
SECTION 4 of 4

How to Take nelfinavir (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your dose, form, and how often you take it will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What Are You Taking This Medication For?

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection

Brand: Viracept

Form: Oral tablet
Strength: 250 mg, 625 mg
Form: Oral powder
Strength: 50 mg per scoopful
Adult Dosage (ages 18-64 years)

1,250 mg, taken twice per day with meals or 750 mg, taken three times per day with meals and spaced evenly throughout the day. If you have trouble swallowing the tablets, you can dissolve them in a small amount of water.

Child Dosage (ages 14-17 years)

1,250 mg, taken twice per day with meals or 750 mg, taken three times per day with meals and spaced evenly throughout the day. If your child has trouble swallowing the tablets, you can dissolve them in a small amount of water.

Child Dosage (ages 2-13 years)

Dosage is based on weight.

Child Dosage (ages 0-1 year)

Dosage for people younger than 2 years has not been established.

Senior Dosage (ages 65 years and older)

There are no specific recommendations for senior dosing. Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of the drug to be higher than normal. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or you may need a different schedule.

Special Considerations

Children: Dosage for children aged 2–13 years is based on their body weight.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Keeping human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection under control requires lifelong treatment. There can be serious health consequences if you don’t take this drug exactly how your doctor tells you.

If You Don’t Take it at All

If you don’t take it at all, your HIV infection will eventually reduce your immunity to a point that your body won’t be able to defend itself against many types of infections, even infections that are commonly cured in people who don’t have HIV infection.

If You Stop or Miss Doses

If you stop taking this medication, miss doses, or don’t take it on schedule, the amount of medication in your body fluctuates. This can allow the HIV in your body to become resistant to the drug, which means the drug stops working.

If You Don’t Take it on Schedule

Taking your drug at the same time every day keeps a constant amount of the drug in your body. This helps make the drug as effective as possible at keeping the virus under control.

What to Do if You Miss a Dose

If you miss a dose of Viracept, take it as soon as possible. If it’s almost time to take the next dose, skip the dose that you missed and take the next scheduled dose.

Never double the dose to try and catch up. You risk having higher drug levels and worse side effects. 

How Can I Tell if the Drug Is Working?

To see how well your treatment is working, your doctor will check your:

  • virus count. The virus count or viral load measures the number of copies of HIV in your body. A decreased virus count is a sign that your treatment is working.
  • CD4 count. A CD4 count measures the amount of CD4 cells in your body. CD4 cells are white blood cells that fight infection. An increased CD4 count is a sign that your HIV treatment is working.

Viracept is a long-term drug treatment.

It’s important to space your doses out carefully

If you take doses too close together or too far apart, the drug will not be as effective in treating your human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

You can cut or crush the oral tablets

You can also dissolve them in filtered or bottled water if you have trouble swallowing them.

Store Viracept tablets at room temperature: 59–86ºF (15–30ºC)

Keep the drug in its original container and keep the bottle tightly closed.

Note: Be careful of moist environments, including bathrooms. To keep drugs away from moisture, store them somewhere other than your bathroom and any other damp location.

Travel

If you dissolve the tablets, make sure to mix it with filtered or bottled water. Well water or water with other impurities could affect the way the drug dissolves.

Self-Management

Dissolving tablets:

  • If you have trouble swallowing the tablets, you can dissolve them in a small amount of filtered or bottled water.
  • Place Viracept tablet(s) in a small amount of water in a cup or glass.
  • After the tablet is dissolved, mix the cloudy liquid well and drink it immediately. 
  • After drinking the dose, fill the glass with more water and swallow all of it. This will help ensure that you receive the full amount of the medication.

Clinical Monitoring

To see how well your treatment is working, your doctor will check your:

  • virus count. The virus count or viral load measures the number of copies of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in your body. A decreased virus count is a sign that your treatment is working.
  • CD4 cell count. A CD4 cell count measures the number of CD4 cells in your body. CD4 cells are white blood cells that fight infection. An increased CD4 count is a sign that your treatment is working.

Viracept can increase blood sugar. Your doctor may check your blood sugar periodically while you take it.

Your doctor may check your liver function before and during treatment.

Not every pharmacy stocks this drug, so call ahead

If you only need a few tablets, you should call and ask if your pharmacy dispenses only a small number of tablets. Some pharmacies can't dispense only part of a bottle.

This drug is often available from specialty pharmacies through your insurance plan. These pharmacies operate like mail order pharmacies and ship the drug to you.

In larger cities, there will often be human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pharmacies where you can have your prescriptions filled. Ask your doctor if there's an HIV pharmacy in your area.

Insurance

Many insurance companies will require a prior authorization before they approve the prescription and pay for Viracept. Your doctor may need to do paperwork for you, which could take a week or two.

What does the pill look like?

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Are There Any Alternatives?

There are several drugs and combinations that can treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Some may be more suitable for you than others. Talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.


Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with Susan J. Bliss, RPh, MBA

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on April 29, 2015

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Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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