What is Saquinavir?

Jennifer Long
Jennifer Long

Saquinavir is a drug that is used in the treatment of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It is a protease inhibitor that works to stop the multiplication of HIV cells. The progression from HIV to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) occurs as a result of this multiplication. When HIV cells multiply, they essentially take over the healthy cells in the body to help aid in the recreation of new infected cells.

This medication was the first protease inhibitor to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This first version was a hard capsule that was not absorbed well by patients’ bodies, which caused a resistance to develop. A second version, the soft capsule, was approved by the FDA in 1997. The hard capsules were difficult to digest for some people, but the soft capsules worked well for most patients.

As a protease-based virus, HIV relies on protease enzymes to break down the protective proteins of healthy cells. This virus then infects these cells and converts them into new HIV cells. The body produces healthy cells continuously, but the HIV cells take them over rapidly. This leads to a weakened immune system and progression to AIDS. Saquinavir helps to delay this progression while also preventing HIV cells from taking over healthy cells so quickly.

Saquinavir is often prescribed as part of a treatment plan that will include other HIV medications. Research has shown that several types of HIV medications boost the performance of this inhibitor, and it is usually used in conjunction with a specific booster medication, known as ritonavir. The booster is used to increase the effectiveness of the HIV medication so that extremely high doses are not as necessary.

Common side effects of Saquinavir include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some patients may also experience abdominal pain and fatigue. To reduce possible side effects, this medication should be taken either with a meal or within two hours of eating. It should also be taken at the same time as the booster, because the booster is designed to increase the benefits of the HIV medication.

It is important to remember not to skip any doses. If a dose is missed, it can raise the chances that HIV will become resistant to the Saquinavir. It helps to take the medication at the same times every day. This will also help regulate how much of the medication stays in your bloodstream at all times.

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Nurse