1 What is Invirase?

Generic: Saquinavir

Invirase is an antiviral drug. Saquinavir, with another antiviral drug Ritonavir, is indicated for treating HIV infection.

HIV or human immunodeficiency virus causes AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). HIV stays in the body for years and gradually destroys the immune system.

Once the patient develops AIDS as immunity becomes too weak, he or she becomes more susceptible to opportunistic infections and certain cancers.

Medications like Saquinavir works to reduce numbers of HIV in the body so the immune system works better and delay the onset of AIDS.

Saquinavir is a protease inhibitor that works by preventing HIV virus from reproducing. The medication also appears to slow down the destruction of the immune system. However, treatment with Saquinavir does not cure HIV infection.

Doctors prescribe Saquinavir along with Ritonavir and other HIV medications to reduce the chance of infection and cancers caused by HIV infection, and improve the quality of life.

Saquinavir is available in tablets and pills for taking by mouth. Saquinavir is a prescription medication.

2 What to know before using

Before using Invega Sustenna, you must know all about the risks and complications associated with it.

Tell your doctor if you have allergies or sensitivities to Saquinavir or Ritonavir. You cannot use Saquinavir if you are allergic to it.

Before taking Saquinavir, make sure to tell all the health problems you might have. Saquinavir is contraindicated in patients with the severe liver disease, have low levels of potassium or magnesium in the blood.

Saquinavir is not suitable for patients with a condition called heart block and does not have a pacemaker. Heart block occurs when the heart beats too slowly due to disruption of electrical signals that stimulates heart muscle contraction.

Saquinavir is also inappropriate for patients with a history of heart problems caused by irregular heart rhythm, like congenital long QT syndrome and QT prolongation.

Make sure the doctor know if you have heart problems, high levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, or have liver problems like hepatitis, kidney disease, hemophilia or electrolyte imbalances.

It is recommended not to take alcohol while having treatment with Saquinavir due to the risk of liver problems. Tell the doctor if you are or have a history of alcohol abuse.

Do not take Saquinavir if you take Sildenafil for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).

Do not take Saquinavir if you are taking Colchicine and diseases in kidney or liver.

Make sure to tell the doctor all the medications you take before taking Saquinavir. Make sure to tell prescribed medicines, over-the-counter medications and supplements.

Saquinavir interacts with several drugs, including the following:

  • Anti-allergy medications
  • Drugs that induce abortion
  • Anxiolytics
  • Anti-asthma and other drugs for lung problems
  • Drugs for depression, mood swings and other mental disorders
  • Drugs for diabetes
  • Drugs for erectile dysfunction
  • Drugs for gout
  • Drugs for heartburn or reflux
  • Antihypertensives
  • Drugs that lower cholesterol
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Drugs for treating HIV
  • Antibiotics
  • Drugs for relieving inflammation
  • Drugs for treating heart problems
  • Drugs for migraines, nausea, and vomiting
  • Drugs for treating addiction to narcotics
  • Drugs for overactive bladder
  • Drugs for pulmonary hypertension
  • Pain relievers
  • Anti-seizure drugs
  • Multivitamins
  • Herbal or dietary supplements, like garlic, grapefruit, and St. John’s wort

You cannot take Saquinavir if you are taking the following medicines or substances:

  • Alfuzosin
  • Amiodarone
  • Bepridil
  • Cisapride
  • Dihydroergotamine
  • Dofetilide
  • Ergonovine
  • Ergotamine
  • Flecainide
  • Fusidic Acid
  • Garlic supplement
  • Lidocaine
  • Lovastatin
  • Methylergonovine
  • Oral Midazolam
  • Pimozide
  • Propafenone
  • Quinidine
  • Rifampin
  • Salmeterol
  • Simvastatin
  • Tipranavir/Ritonavir
  • Trazodone
  • Triazolam

3 Proper usage

To use Invega Sustenna properly, you must follow all instructions given by your doctor.

Saquinavir is taken by mouth. The medication comes with another information sheet called a Medication Guide. Make sure to read and understand the Medication Guide completely before taking Saquinavir.

The doctor will determine the dose of Saquinavir.

Saquinavir is always taken with the antiviral drug Ritonavir, and you must take them together at once. Usually, the initial dose starts at 500 mg twice a day for 7 days.

Always take Saquinavir with food, up to 2 hours after a meal. Food enhances absorption of Saquinavir. Take the medication at the same times every day. Make sure to take Saquinavir even if you feel well.

If you are unable to take Saquinavir capsules, you can open them and mix the powder thoroughly with syrup, fruit jam or sorbitol. Take the mixture entirely.

If you missed a dose of Saquinavir, take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and stick to the dosing schedule. Do not take more medication to make up for the missed dose.

Store Saquinavir in room temperature, not exceeding 25 C.

4 Precautions to take

Before using Invega Sustenna, there are some precautions you must take.

Make sure to take Saquinavir regularly. Do not increase the dose or stop taking the drug without doctor’s instructions. Replenish your supply once it gets low. Temporarily stopping Saquinavir treatment can give HIV virus a chance to mutate and become resistant to treatment.

While taking Saquinavir, you need to have regular lab tests such as

These lab tests detect early signs of side effects and monitor your condition.

Saquinavir can interact with many medications, including over-the-counter ones. Do not take any other medication while taking Saquinavir without asking the doctor first.

When receiving care from another doctor or when visiting a dentist, make sure they know you are taking Saquinavir.

Saquinavir may cause dizziness, which may affect your ability to drive or operate heavy machinery. Make sure you know the effects of Saquinavir to you before you do these activities.

Note that Saquinavir does not totally cure HIV, and you still have to stick to precautions to prevent the virus from spreading. Make sure to use a condom while having sex, not sharing needles, toothbrushes, and razors.

Note that Saquinavir may reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills. Always use a condom for birth control.

Saquinavir may cause increased bleeding, especially in patients with hemophilia. If you notice unusual bruises or bleeding, call the doctor at once.

Saquinavir may also make your blood sugar levels to rising, which is a concern to patients with conditions like diabetes. Talk to your doctor about adjusting your diabetes medication.

Call the doctor if you feel

  • drowsy,
  • thirsty,
  • have dry skin
  • fruity breath odor

which are signs of abnormally high blood sugar levels.

Saquinavir may cause Steven-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis, which are severe skin reactions.

Call the doctor if you experience

  • redness,
  • swelling,
  • peeling,
  • blistering
  • presence of sores in the mouth, eyes or throat.

Call your doctor right away if you became pregnant or breastfeed while taking Saquinavir.

5 Potential side effects

As with many medications, there are several potential side effects associated with Invega Sustenna.

Call your doctor right away if you experience the following while taking Saquinavir:

  • Severe allergic reaction, causing symptoms such as difficulty breathing, swelling of the mouth, lips, eyes or tongue, rashes, and hives
  • Passing out black, tarry stools
  • Burning, numbness, tingling or burning sensation
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion or problems in coordination
  • A persistent sore throat or cough
  • Having flu symptoms
  • Coughing up blood
  • Mental or mood changes, like having depression
  • Stomach pain
  • One-sided weakness
  • Having seizures
  • Fainting
  • Irregular, too fast or too slow heartbeat
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slurred speech
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • Swelling of the hands, feet or ankles
  • Symptoms of liver problem, like
    • passing out dark urine,
    • yellowing of eyes and skin,
    • unusual bleeding or bruising,
    • unexplained tiredness or weakness,
    • changes in vision
    • vomiting material that looks like coffee grounds

Saquinavir may cause minor side effects that are not harmful: