Prezista: 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 Prezista?

  • Prezista is often used as the first treatment for newly diagnosed HIV patients
  • Has many drug interactions; review all drugs you take with MD and pharmacist
  • Used to treat adults and children ages 3 and older

Brand Name: Prezista
Generic Name: Darunavir

Prezista is a medication used to slow the progression of HIV. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the medication for adults and children ages 3 and up. This medication is available in tablet and oral suspension form. It’s used in combination with other HIV medications. Ritonavir (Norvir) is added to Prezista to increase its blood levels for good effect.

Read the FDA description of Prezista

What Does Prezista Do?

Prezista belongs to a class of medications known as protease inhibitors. This medication works by blocking protease enzymes that are present in HIV. Without the protease enzymes, HIV is unable to duplicate itself as easily. However, Prezista does not cure HIV or AIDS.

What Are the Typical Doses?

The adult dose of Prezista depends on whether the patient has had treatment before.  For a person being treated for HIV the first time, or patients who have been tested and have no resistance to Prezista, the dose is 800 milligrams (mg) once daily, combined with ritonavir (Norvir) 100 mg once daily. For the patient who has been previously treated with Prezista and shows some resistance through testing, the dose is 600 mg twice a day, combined with ritonavir (Norvir) 100 mg twice a day. If patients cannot be tested, they should be dosed at 600 mg twice a day and with ritonavir 100 mg twice a day. The dose doesn’t normally need to be adjusted for patients with kidney disease. Children ages 3 or older are dosed with Prezista according to their weight and must also take ritonavir with it.  

Prezista must be taken with food.

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 Prezista?

Tell your doctor if you:

  • are breastfeeding or planning on breastfeeding
  • are pregnant or are planning on becoming pregnant
  • have hemophilia
  • have high blood sugar, such as hyperglycemia or diabetes
  • have a medication allergy to Prezista or sulfa medications (such as trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole or Septra)
  • have a liver condition, such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C

What Medications May Interact with Prezista?

Always tell your physician about any prescription medications or herbal remedies you are taking. Many drugs interact with Prezista. Some of the medications that can adversely interact with Prezista include:

  • alpha-1-Adrenoreceptor antagonists, such as alfuzosin
  • amiodarone and some antiarrhymic heart drugs
  • anticonvulsants
  • antidepressants, including sertraline, paroxetine
  • antimycobacterial medications, such as Rifampin 
  • calcium channel blockers, including amlodipine, diltiazem, nifedipine, diltiazem (these may require dose adjustment or change of treatment)
  • chemotherapy
  • cisapride (Propulsid)
  • oral contraceptives
  • ergot derivatives, including dihydroergotamine (Migranal), ergonovine (such as Ergotrate), ergotamine (Ergomar), and methylergonovine (Methergine)
  • GI motility agents, including cisapride (Propulsid)
  • herbal remedies, including St. John’s wort
  • HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, such as lovastatin (Mevacor and Altoprev)
  • neuroleptic medications, such as pimozide (Orap)
  • phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors, such as sildenafil (Viagra)
  • sedative or hypnotic medications, including triazolam (Halcion)
  • warfarin (blood thinner)

Possible Side Effects of Prezista

Possible Adverse and Emergency Side Effects

The following are severe and emergent side effects of these medications. Report to your medical provider immediately if you experience the following:

  • hepatotoxicity, such as acute hepatitis, that affects your liver functioning; symptoms of this condition include dark urine, decrease in appetite, fatigue, jaundice or yellowing skinnausea, and tenderness over the liver
  • hemophilia or increased bleeding
  • hyperglycemia, including diabetic ketoacidosis, where blood sugar levels can reach dangerously high levels.
  • immune reconstitution syndrome, a condition that causes an inflammatory response in viruses in the blood, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis
  • severe skin reactions that include skin changes accompanied by aching joints, fatigue, and blistering

Possible Nonemergency Side Effects

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

  • abdominal pain
  • high cholesterol and triglycerides that may require treatment
  • changes in the distribution of body fat, such as an increasing amount of fat on the neck
  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • nausea/vomiting

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.

Prezista, Norvir, and Truvada

Patients taking HIV medications for the first time may take a combination of HIV medications. A doctor may prescribe Prezista, low-dose ritonavir (Norvir), and tenofovir and emtricitabine (Truvada), for first-time treatment. This is known as a protease inhibitor (PI) based regimen.

Where Should I Keep Prezista?

Prezista in tablets and oral suspension should be stored at room temperature, 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius). Prezista may be stored briefly at temperatures of 59 degrees to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees to 30 degrees Celsius). Excess heat can be damaging. Don’t refrigerate or freeze the oral suspension form and keep it in its original container.

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: THE FDA CLASSIFIES PREZISTA IN CATEGORY C, MEANING THE EFFECTS ON AN UNBORN BABY ARE UNKNOWN. ALWAYS NOTIFY YOUR PHYSICIAN IF YOU ARE PREGNANT OR THINKING OF BECOMING PREGNANT.  

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