What is Prezista®?

Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Jacquelyn Gilchrist

Prezista® is a brand name for the generic drug darunavir. It is an antiviral medication classified as a protease inhibitor. Prezista® is prescribed to help control human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). A doctor will place a patient on this treatment plan along with two other HIV medications, one of which is ritonavir. This is not a cure for the disease and will not prevent a patient from spreading it to others.

The drug is available in the form of a tablet intended to be swallowed whole. Patients must not break, crush, or chew the tablet. Typically, the physician will prescribe one to two doses daily, which must be taken with a meal and a full glass of water or milk.

It is essential for the patient to take ritonavir and the other HIV medication along with Prezista®. The patient should not take Prezista® exclusively. It is also essential for the patient to avoid skipping doses or discontinuing the medication without the doctor's approval — doing so can make the HIV infection much more difficult to control. Dosages should be taken at the same time each day to maintain constant levels of the drug in the body.

Prezista® may cause high blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, which requires a doctor's attention. Signs of this condition can include weakness, frequent urination, and unreasonable hunger or thirst. Other side effects from this drug can include diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation, as well as stomach pain and headache. The doctor should be notified if these symptoms persist or become severe.

This antiviral medication may also cause more serious side effects, which may require immediate medical attention. These can include blistering or peeling skin, muscle or joint aches, and mouth sores. Fever, nausea, and swelling may occur, as well as loss of appetite, extreme fatigue, and pain in the upper portion of the stomach. Dark or pale stools and yellowing of the skin are possible.

Patients taking Prezista® must discuss all other medications and supplements they take with their doctors. This drug should never be taken with St. John's wort. Patients are urged to use a barrier method of birth control, as Prezista® can lessen the efficacy of hormonal birth control methods. It is unknown whether this drug can cause birth defects, as of 2011. People with HIV should never breastfeed, as the virus can infect the nursing baby.

Those who have other medical conditions should discuss the safety of this drug with the physician. A patient may be unable to use this medicine if he has a liver disease or a bleeding disorder, such as hemophilia. Diabetes and high cholesterol may also preclude a person from using Prezista®.

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