Generic name: Nelfinavir mesylate

What is Viracept?

Viracept (nelfinavir) is an HIV protease inhibitor. Viracept prevents human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) cells from multiplying in your body.

Viracept is used to treat HIV, which causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Viracept is not a cure for HIV or AIDS.

Viracept may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Viracept

Health Benefits

Viracept has been shown to be effective in reducing viral load and increasing CD4 cell counts in people with HIV infection. In addition, Viracept has been associated with a reduction in the development of HIV-related opportunistic infections.

Side Effects

Common side effects of Viracept include:

diarrhea,

nausea,

stomach pain,

gas,

vomiting,

weight loss,

headache, and

dizziness.

Serious side effects of Viracept include:

severe diarrhea (watery or bloody stools),

fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms, sores in your mouth and throat;

pale or yellowed skin, dark colored urine; or

jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects.

Dosage and Administration

Viracept is available as an oral solution or tablet. The recommended dose for adults is 750 mg twice daily. For children aged 2 to 17 years, the recommended dose is 350 mg/m2 twice daily.

Dosage adjustments may be necessary for patients with renal or hepatic impairment.

Viracept should be taken with food.

Interactions

Viracept may interact with other medications, especially rifampin, St. John’s wort, seizure medication, or antibiotics. Tell your doctor all medications and supplements you use. During pregnancy, Viracept should be used only when prescribed. This medication passes into breast milk and could have harmful effects on a nursing baby. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding. You should not take this medication if you are allergic to nelfinavir or if you have: liver disease; or a history of pancreatitis.

Mechanism of Action

Viracept inhibits HIV protease, an enzyme needed for the HIV virus to mature and produce infectious particles. By inhibiting this enzyme, Viracept reduces the amount of HIV in the blood and helps to keep the virus from replicating.

Pharmacokinetics

Viracept is rapidly and completely absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. The bioavailability of the oral solution is similar to that of the tablet. Nelfinavir is widely distributed in body tissues and fluids. The mean plasma elimination half-life is approximately 4 hours. Nelfinavir is metabolized by the liver and eliminated primarily in the feces.

Efficacy

In clinical studies, Viracept was shown to be effective in reducing viral load and increasing CD4 cell counts in people with HIV infection. In addition, Viracept has been associated with a reduction in the development of HIV-related opportunistic infections.

Alternatives to Viracept

Other protease inhibitors include: atazanavir, darunavir, indinavir, lopinavir/ritonavir, and saquinavir.

Is atazanavir more effective than Viracept?

There are no head-to-head clinical studies comparing the efficacy of atazanavir and Viracept. However, in a large clinical study that compared the two drugs plus other antiretroviral medications, atazanavir was associated with a higher rate of viral load suppression and a higher CD4 cell count increase than Viracept.

Is darunavir more effective than Viracept?

There are no head-to-head clinical studies comparing the efficacy of darunavir and Viracept. However, in a large clinical study that compared the two drugs plus other antiretroviral medications, darunavir was associated with a higher rate of viral load suppression and a higher CD4 cell count increase than Viracept.

Is indinavir more effective than Viracept?

There are no head-to-head clinical studies comparing the efficacy of indinavir and Viracept. However, in a large clinical study that compared the two drugs plus other antiretroviral medications, indinavir was associated with a higher rate of viral load suppression and a higher CD4 cell count increase than Viracept.

Is lopinavir/ritonavir more effective than Viracept?

There are no head-to-head clinical studies comparing the efficacy of lopinavir/ritonavir and Viracept. However, in a large clinical study that compared the two drugs plus other antiretroviral medications, lopinavir/ritonavir was associated with a higher rate of viral load suppression and a higher CD4 cell count increase than Viracept.

Is saquinavir more effective than Viracept?

There are no head-to-head clinical studies comparing the efficacy of saquinavir and Viracept. However, in a large clinical study that compared the two drugs plus other antiretroviral medications, saquinavir was associated with a higher rate of viral load suppression and a higher CD4 cell count increase than Viracept.