Norvir: Side Effects, Dosage, Information

Written by Rachel Nall, RN, BSN | Published on October 3, 2014
Medically Reviewed by Susan J. Bliss, RPh, MBA on October 3, 2014

What Is Norvir?

Brand Name: Norvir
Generic Name: Ritonavir, RTV

Norvir is a medication used to treat HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Doctors prescribe the medicine as a capsule, a tablet, or a liquid solution. Adults and children over the age of two can take Norvir.

Read the FDA description of Norvir.  

What Does Norvir Do?

Norvir is a protease inhibitor and may be used as part of a multi-drug treatment for HIV. It’s now more often used to boost the effect of other antiretroviral medications by prolonging their effect in the body. 

What Are the Typical Doses?

Norvir’s effects depend on the dosage. When a doctor prescribes it at levels between 100 and 200 milligrams (mg) per day, it’s used to increase the effects of antiviral medications. Norvir boosts the effectiveness of these medicines. When prescribed at levels of 600 mg twice daily, it’s used to keep HIV from reproducing.

Norvir is not a cure for HIV, but it can slow HIV’s progression. A doctor will typically prescribe a low initial dose and then increase the dosage over the course of two weeks. Norvir should be taken with food. A high-fat snack helps reduce side effects. 

This information is a summary. Before starting this medication, discuss questions with your healthcare provider and make sure you understand dosage instructions.

What Should I Tell My Doctor Before Starting Norvir?

Tell your doctor before taking Norvir if you:

  • are breastfeeding or planning on breastfeeding, as the HIV virus and Norvir can pass through breast milk
  • are pregnant or are planning on becoming pregnant
  • have bleeding problems, such as hemophilia
  • have diabetes or other issues related to blood sugar
  • have heart problems
  • have a history of Stevens-Johnson syndrome or another skin-hypersensitivity reaction when taking ritonavir
  • have liver issues, including hepatitis B or C or abnormal liver enzymes

What Medications May Interact with Norvir?

Many drugs interact with Norvir. It often prolongs their action in the body. Always review all of your prescription, over-the-counter (OTC), and herbal medications with your doctor when taking Norvir. 

Patients taking the following medications should not take Norvir:

  • alfuzosin HCL
  • anti-arrhythmia medications, such as amiodarone (including Cordarone, Pacerone, and Nexterone), flecainide (Tambocor), propafenone (Rythmol), quinidine (including Quinidex)
  • cisapride
  • ergot derivatives, including dihydroergotamine (Migranal), ergonovine (such as Ergotrate), ergotamine (Ergomar), and methylergonovine (Methergine)
  • sedatives, such as midazolam (including Versed) or triazolam (including Halcion)
  • sildenafil (such as Viagra)
  • statin drugs, such as lovastatin (Mevacor and Altoprev), simvastatin (Zocor) and atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • St. John’s wort
  • voriconazle (Vfend)

Possible Side Effects of Norvir?

Possible Adverse Emergency Side Effects

The following are severe and emergent side effects of Norvir. Contact your medical provider immediately if you experience:

  • allergic reaction symptoms, such as severe rash, trouble breathing, or body swelling
  • signs of pancreatitis, such as upper abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal tenderness
  • increased bleeding, which can be especially dangerous for people with hemophilia
  • symptoms of liver issues, such as yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, darkened urine, nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, pale-colored stool, and aching and tenderness just below your ribs on your right side
  • symptoms of heart disease, such as abnormal heart rhythms or heart palpitations

Taking Norvir has been associated with an increased risk for high cholesterol and the new onset of diabetes mellitus or high blood sugar.

Possible Nonemergency Side Effects

The following side effects may occur but don’t usually represent an emergency. Discuss them with your doctor or healthcare professional if they continue or are bothersome.

  • appetite loss
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • stomach pain
  • tingling
  • tiredness
  • vomiting
  • weakness

This list may not describe all possible side effects. Call your doctor or healthcare provider for advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Where Should I Keep Norvir?

Norvir capsules should be stored in a refrigerator or between 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit or (2 to 8 degrees Celsius). Capsules should be protected from light and excessive heat. If patients use the capsules within 30 days, they can be stored at room temperature of or below 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius).  

Norvir tablets should be stored at room temperature and tablets should not be exposed to high humidity outside the prescription container, for more than two weeks. 

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Important FDA Warnings

FDA WARNING: POTENTIAL SERIOUS AND/OR LIFE-THREATENING ADVERSE EFFECTS IN COMBO W/ CERTAIN NON-SEDATING ANTIHISTAMINES, SEDATIVE HYPNOTICS, ANTIARRHYTHMICS, OR ERGOT ALKALOIDS DUE TO INHIBITED DRUG METABOLISM BY RITONAVIR.

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Show Sources

●      Norvir Highlights of Prescribing Information. (January 2013). AbbVie Inc. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from http://www.rxabbvie.com/pdf/norpi2a.pdf
●      Ritonavir. (August 23, 2013). National Institutes of Health. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from http://aidsinfo.nih.gov/drugs/244/ritonavir/0/patient

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