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What is Aptivus®?

T. Broderick
T. Broderick

Aptivus® is the trade name of tipranavir, a prescription medication used to treat HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus. The medication is part of a drug cocktail that inhibits HIV's ability to replicate. Though effective for HIV-positive patients just beginning treatment, Aptivus® has the added advantage of treating patients whose HIV has become resistant to other medications. Though the medication is a second chance for many patients, side effects are more severe than those from other HIV treatments. Certain patients cannot use the medication, as potential risks outweigh potential benefits.

Aptivus®, marketed by Boehringer-Ingelheim, is a nonpeptidic protease inhibitor. These types of inhibitors, used mainly in the treatment of HIV and hepatitis C, deny a virus certain enzymes needed to replicate. Treatment with a nonpeptidic protease inhibitor alone is not enough, as a mutation within the virus can quickly make the medication ineffective. For this reason, treating HIV requires a drug cocktail to simultaneously attack the virus at different points. Therefore, physicians prescribing Aptivus® always include a second prescription for ritonavir.

Aptivus is used in a drug cocktail that inhibits HIV from replicating.
Aptivus is used in a drug cocktail that inhibits HIV from replicating.

Ritonavir is an antiretroviral medication that has the ability to suppress the same enzymes targeted by Aptivus®. The effects of both medications become enhanced, reducing virus production well below levels observed when patients use only one medication. This dual action allows a patient to take less amounts of both medications, lowering the risk of serious side effects. Even so, patients should not take lightly the side effects associated with Aptivus®.

Diabetes and chemically induced hepatitis are just two of the side effects that can occur when taking Aptivus®. These conditions, serious on their own, can quickly complicate HIV treatment and reduce a patient's quality of life. For these reasons, physicians generally prescribe the medication only to patients whose HIV has developed drug resistance. Patients taking the medication should expect an increase in the number of visits to their physicians. Regular blood testing and physicals are necessary to check for both the medication's efficacy and the development of possible side effects.

As Aptivus® can raise cholesterol and triglycerides, individuals with high cholesterol should not take the medication. If prescribed in conjunction with ritonavir, patients must consider the contraindications of that medication as well. Ritonavir is contraindicated by over two dozen medications. As some of these drug interactions can quickly become fatal, patients must disclose all current and recent medications to their physicians. Only then can patients safely receive the benefit from this combination therapy.

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    • Aptivus is used in a drug cocktail that inhibits HIV from replicating.
      By: Rob Byron
      Aptivus is used in a drug cocktail that inhibits HIV from replicating.