Saquinavir (By mouth)


Saquinavir Mesylate (sa-KWIN-a-vir MES-i-late)

Treats human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. HIV causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Saquinavir does not cure HIV or AIDS. It is used together with ritonavir and other medicines to slow the progress of the disease.

Brand Name(s)


There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

Do not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to saquinavir, saquinavir mesylate, or ritonavir (Norvir®) or if you have severe liver disease. Do not use this medicine if you have a heart disease and do not use a pacemaker, heart rhythm problems (such as congenital long QT syndrome), or low potassium or magnesium in the blood. Do not use this medicine if you also take alfuzosin (Uroxatral®), cisapride (Propulsid®), lovastatin (Advicor®, Altoprev®, Mevacor®), oral midazolam (Versed®), pimozide (Orap®), rifampin (Rifadin®, Rifamate®, Rifater®, Rimactane®), sildenafil (Revatio®), simvastatin (Simcor®, Vytorin®, Zocor®), trazodone (Desyrel®, Oleptro®), triazolam (Halcion®), medicine for heart rhythm problems (such as amiodarone, bepridil, dofetilide, flecainide, lidocaine, propafenone, quinidine, Cordarone®, Tambocor®, Tikosyn®), or ergotamine medicines (such as dihydroergotamine, ergonovine, ergotamine, methylergonovine, Cafergot®, Ergomar®, Wigraine®).

How to Use This Medicine

Capsule, Liquid Filled Capsule, Tablet

  • Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to use and how often. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • This medicine should always be taken together with ritonavir. Take all other medicines your doctor has prescribed at the right time of the day. This will make your medicines work better.
  • Take this medicine within 2 hours after you eat a full meal. The medicine may not work as well if you take it on an empty stomach.
  • If you are not able to swallow the capsules, open the capsules and pour the contents in an empty container. Add 15 mL of sugar syrup or sorbitol syrup or 3 teaspoons of jam to the container and stir for 30 to 60 seconds. Let the mixture come to room temperature. Eat the entire mixture to ensure to get the full dose.
  • Take only the form of this medicine that your doctor prescribed. If you refill your prescription and your pills look different, do not take the medicine and tell your doctor or pharmacist right away.
  • This medicine works best if there is a constant amount in the blood. Take this medicine at the same time each day and do not miss any doses. Contact your doctor or pharmacist when your supply of this medicine is running low. Do not allow yourself to run out of this medicine.
  • This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. Ask your pharmacist for the Medication Guide if you do not have one.

If a dose is missed:

  • If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to use the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
  • Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you use digoxin (Digitek®, Lanoxin®), garlic capsules, quinine, salmeterol (Advair®, Serevent®), St John's wort, other medicine to treat HIV or AIDS (such as atazanavir, delavirdine, efavirenz, indinavir, lopinavir, maraviroc, nelfinavir, nevirapine, ritonavir, tipranavir, Crixivan®, Kaletra®, Norvir®, Rescriptor®, Reyataz®, Sustiva®), or medicine to lower cholesterol (such as atorvastatin, rosuvastatin, Crestor®, Lipitor®).
  • Tell your doctor if you use medicine for heart rhythm problems (such as disopyramide, ibutilide, sotalol, Norpace®), a blood thinner (such as warfarin, Coumadin®, Jantoven®), medicine for seizures (such as carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, Carbatrol®, Dilantin®, Tegretol®), medicine to treat an infection (such as clarithromycin, dapsone, erythromycin, itraconazole, ketoconazole, rifabutin, Mycobutin®, Nizoral®), or sedatives or sleeping medicines (such as alprazolam, clorazepate, diazepam, flurazepam, midazolam injection, Xanax®).
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you also use bosentan (Tracleer®), colchicine (Colcrys®), halofantrine (Halfan®), pentamidine (Nebupent®), blood pressure medicine (such as amlodipine, atenolol, diltiazem, felodipine, isradipine, metoprolol, nicardipine, nifedipine, nimodipine, nisoldipine, verapamil, Bystolic®, Caduet®, Lotrel®, Tenormin®), steroid medicine (such as dexamethasone, fluticasone, Advair®, Flonase®), stomach medicine (such as omeprazole, ranitidine, Prilosec®, Zantac®), or medicine that weakens the immune system (such as cyclosporine, rapamycin, tacrolimus, Gengraf®, Neoral®, Protopic®, Rapamune®, Sandimmune®).
  • Tell your doctor if you also use pain medicine (such as alfentanil, fentanyl, methadone, Dolophine®), birth control pills (such as ethinyl estradiol, Estinyl®), medicine to treat impotence or pulmonary hypertension (such as sildenafil, tadalafil, vardenafil, Adcirca®, Cialis®, Levitra®, Viagra®), medicine to treat depression (such as amitriptyline, imipramine, Elavil®), medicine for mental illness (such as clozapine, haloperidol, ziprasidone, Haldol®), or a phenothiazine medicine (such as mesoridazine, thioridazine, Phenergan®, Thorazine®).

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or if you have liver disease (such as cirrhosis, hepatitis B or C) or history of alcoholism, diabetes, or hemophilia. Tell your doctor if you have a history of heart disease (such as congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy, or ischemia) or any heart rhythm problems. Your doctor needs to know if you have high cholesterol or a history of lactose intolerance.
  • You should not breastfeed if you have HIV or AIDS, because you might give the infection to your baby through your breast milk.
  • This medicine will not keep you from giving HIV to your partner during sex. Make sure you understand and practice safe sex, even if your partner also has HIV. Do not share needles with anyone.
  • Contact your doctor right away if you have any changes to your heart rhythm. You might feel dizzy or faint, or you might have a fast, pounding, or uneven heartbeat. Make sure your doctor knows if you or anyone in your family has ever had a heart rhythm problem such as PR or QT prolongation.
  • Check with your doctor right away if you have pain in your upper stomach, pale stools or dark urine, loss of appetite, nausea, unusual tiredness or weakness, or yellow eyes or skin. These could be symptoms of a serious liver problem.
  • Your immune system may get stronger when you start taking HIV medicines. Tell your doctor right away if you notice any changes in your health. Sometimes the immune system will start to fight infections that were hidden in your body, such as pneumonia, herpes, or tuberculosis. Autoimmune disorders, such as Graves disease, polymyositis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome may also occur.
  • This medicine may cause you to have changes in body fat. Tell your doctor if you notice an increased amount of fat in the upper back and neck or around the chest and stomach area, or a loss of fat from the legs, arms, and face.
  • Birth control pills may not work as well while you use this medicine. Use another form of birth control to avoid getting pregnant.
  • Do not stop using this medicine suddenly without asking your doctor. You may need to slowly decrease your dose before stopping it completely.The amount of virus in your blood may increase and become harder to treat if you stop taking this medicine.
  • Your doctor will need to check your blood at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Blistering, peeling, red skin rash
  • Change in how much or how often you urinate, painful urination
  • Chest pain, fast or uneven heartbeat
  • Dark-colored urine or pale stools, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, pain in your upper stomach, yellow skin or eyes
  • Fever, chills, cough, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, and body aches
  • Increased hunger or thirst
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
  • Swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising, tiredness, or weakness

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Diarrhea, mild nausea or vomiting, stomach pain
  • Weight gain around your neck, upper back, breast, or waist

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Version Info

  • Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission ( URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2013 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

This page was last updated: September 18, 2013

Average rating (0)