Saquinavir (Oral)

Saquinavir is used for the treatment of patients with HIV to slow the reproduction of the virus in the body.


Saquinavir is used in conjunction with other medications including ritonavir for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV virus will reproduce in the body and destroy the immune system as it does. Eventually, HIV will develop into immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Saquinavir is not a preventative measure against HIV or AIDS and will not stop its spread to other people. Effective protection against the spread of the virus must always be carried out.

Nor is Saquinavir a cure for HIV or AIDS. Saquinavir will help to prevent the HIV virus from reproducing and will slow the destruction of the immune system in the patient. This can help to delay the health problems that will occur from the HIV and AIDS disease.

This medication is available only when prescribed by a doctor.

The medication is produced as Invirase and is available in the forms of liquid-filled capsules, tablets and capsules.

Conditions Treated

  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

Type of Medicine

  • Protease inhibitor

Side Effects

In addition to helping to prevent the reproduction of the HIV virus, Saquinavir can also have unwanted side effects in the body. While not all side effects will occur, in some cases these side effects will require the patient to seek medical attention.

You should check with your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following side effects:

Occurring more commonly:

  • Chest pains
  • Coughing
  • Decrease in the amount of fat on the legs, arms, and face
  • Feverishness or chills
  • Increase in the amount of fat on the body, particularly on the back, stomach, neck, and chest
  • Sneezing
  • Soreness of the throat
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Troubled breathing

Occurring less commonly:

  • Blurring of the vision
  • Coughing that produces mucus
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth or feeling of dehydration
  • Flushed and dry skin
  • Fruit-like or changed breath odor
  • General feeling of discomfort
  • General feeling of illness
  • Headaches
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased thirstiness
  • Increased volume of urination
  • Joint pains
  • Loss of hunger
  • Loss of level of consciousness
  • Muscle aches
  • Muscle pains
  • Nausea
  • Runny nose
  • Shivering
  • Skin rash
  • Soreness of the throat
  • Stomachache
  • Sweating when cool
  • Troubled sleep
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Unusual weakness
  • Vomiting

Occurring only rarely:

  • Burning or prickling sensation of the skin
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Dehydration
  • Dryness or itchiness of the skin

Other side effects may also occur that would not usually necessitate the patient seeking medical attention. These side effects can, however, become bothersome and if they are ongoing then you can seek advice from your medical professional about how you can alleviate these side effects.

  • Acid stomach
  • Back pains
  • Belching
  • Bloated or full feeling not connected to eating
  • Change in perception of taste
  • Decrease in sexual ability and performance
  • Decrease in sexual desire and drive
  • Decreased desire for sexual intercourse
  • Difficulty passing bowel movements
  • Discouragement or lack of motivation
  • Excess build up of air or gas in the stomach or intestinal tract
  • Fear
  • Feeling of sadness or emptiness
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Inability to get or maintain an erection
  • Indigestion
  • Irritability or quickness to anger
  • Lack of hunger
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in life
  • Mouth ulcerations
  • Nervousness
  • Pain or tenderness surrounding the eyes and cheekbones
  • Passing of gas
  • Skin rash that may be encrusted or oozing
  • Skin warts
  • Sour stomach
  • Stomach upset or pain
  • Stuffiness of the nose
  • Trouble in concentrating
  • Undue tiredness
  • Weakness

Other side effects that have not been listed herein may also occur. If you experience any other side effects then you should contact your doctor as soon as possible. If you are concerned about your immediate wellbeing, however, then you can contact the emergency services.


This medication should be used exactly as it has been prescribed to you by your doctor. You should not take this medication in greater doses than prescribed, more frequently than prescribed or for longer than prescribed. You should not stop taking this medication without discussing this with your doctor first.

This medication will be provided to you with a medication guide that you should read and understand. Ensure that you read this every time you are prescribed this medication as some of the information and dosing advice may change. Ask your doctor if you have any questions about the medication having read this.

Take this medication with food or within 2 hours of eating a full meal. Taking this medication on an empty stomach will cause problems.

If you are also taking ritonavir with this medication then you should take these tablets at the same time as your Saquinavir tablets. All medications that you are prescribed should be taken at the correct time of day as directed by your doctor.

If you are unable to swallow the capsules then you should open them and mix them thoroughly with some sweet sugar syrup. Stir in thoroughly and then ensure that you consume all of the contents to get the full dose.

The dose of this treatment will differ for each patient. Ensure that you follow the dosing guidelines given to you by your doctor and do not make any changes to this dose without discussing this with them first. The following dosing information is for guidance only:

For use in the treatment of HIV infections

Adults and children aged 16+

  • 500mg with 100mg of ritonavir taken twice daily for seven days.
  • Dose then increased to 1000mg with 100mg of ritonavir taken twice daily.

Children aged below 16

  • To be determined by the doctor.
  • For patients changing to this treatment from another NNRTI-containing treatment:

Adults and children aged 16+

  • 1000mg with 100mg of ritonavir taken twice daily.

Children aged below 16

  • To be determined by the doctor.
  • For patients changing to this treatment from a delavirdine or rilpivirine-containing treatment:

Adults and children aged 16+

  • 500mg with 100mg of ritonavir taken twice daily for seven days.

Children aged below 16

  • To be determined by the doctor.

If a dose of this medication is missed then you should take it as soon as possible with food. If, however, you are close to your next dose being due then you should skip the missed dose entirely and return to your usual schedule. Do not take double doses of this medication.


This medication has a wide range of interactions with other medications. In some cases, this treatment should not be used in conjunction with other treatments and in others your doctor may need to make adjustments to one or more medication so that they can safely be used together. You should inform your doctor of all medications that you take before beginning treatment and once you have started treatment you should discuss the use of any other medications with your doctor before taking them. This is especially important with the following medications:

  • Zuclopenthixol
  • Ziprasidone
  • Vorinostat
  • Voriconazole
  • Vinflunine
  • Vilanterol
  • Venlafaxine
  • Venetoclax
  • Vemurafenib
  • Vandetanib
  • Triptorelin
  • Trimipramine
  • Triflupromazine
  • Trifluoperazine
  • Triazolam
  • Trazodone
  • Toremifene
  • Tolvaptan
  • Tolterodine
  • Tizanidine
  • Thioridazine
  • Thioproperazine
  • Thiethylperazine
  • Tetrabenazine
  • Terfenadine
  • Telithromycin
  • Telavancin
  • Telaprevir
  • Tamoxifen
  • Tacrolimus
  • Sulpiride
  • Sparfloxacin
  • Sotalol
  • Sorafenib
  • Solifenacin
  • Sodium Phosphate, Monobasic
  • Sodium Phosphate, Dibasic
  • Sodium Phosphate
  • Simvastatin
  • Silodosin
  • Sildenafil
  • Sevoflurane
  • Sertindole
  • Romidepsin
  • Risperidone
  • Riociguat
  • Rifampin
  • Ranolazine
  • Quinine
  • Quinidine
  • Quetiapine
  • Propiomazine
  • Propafenone
  • Promethazine
  • Promazine
  • Prochlorperazine
  • Posaconazole
  • Pitolisant
  • Pipotiazine
  • Piperaquine
  • Pipamperone
  • Pimozide
  • Pimavanserin
  • Perphenazine
  • Periciazine
  • Perflutren Lipid Microsphere
  • Perazine
  • Pentamidine
  • Pazopanib
  • Pasireotide
  • Paroxetine
  • Panobinostat
  • Paliperidone
  • Ondansetron
  • Olanzapine
  • Ofloxacin
  • Octreotide
  • Norfloxacin
  • Nimodipine
  • Nilotinib
  • Naloxegol
  • Nafarelin
  • Moxifloxacin
  • Mizolastine
  • Mifepristone
  • Midazolam
  • Metronidazole
  • Metopimazine
  • Methylergonovine
  • Methdilazine
  • Mesoridazine
  • Mefloquine
  • Maraviroc
  • Lurasidone
  • Lumefantrine
  • Lovastatin
  • Lomitapide
  • Lidocaine
  • Levofloxacin
  • Leuprolide
  • Lapatinib
  • Ketoconazole
  • Ivabradine
  • Isavuconazonium Sulfate
  • Imipramine
  • Iloperidone
  • Ibutilide
  • Hydroxyzine
  • Hydroxychloroquine
  • Hydroquinidine
  • Histrelin
  • Haloperidol
  • Halofantrine
  • Grazoprevir
  • Granisetron
  • Goserelin
  • Gonadorelin
  • Gemifloxacin
  • Gatifloxacin
  • Galantamine
  • Foscarnet
  • Formoterol
  • Fluphenazine
  • Fluoxetine
  • Fluconazole
  • Flibanserin
  • Flecainide
  • Fingolimod
  • Felbamate
  • Famotidine
  • Escitalopram
  • Erythromycin
  • Eribulin
  • Ergotamine
  • Ergonovine
  • Ergoloid Mesylates
  • Eplerenone
  • Eletriptan
  • Efavirenz
  • Ebastine
  • Droperidol
  • Dronedarone
  • Doxorubicin Hydrochloride Liposome
  • Doxorubicin
  • Doxepin
  • Donepezil
  • Domperidone
  • Dolasetron
  • Dofetilide
  • Dixyrazine
  • Dihydroergotamine
  • Deslorelin
  • Delamanid
  • Degarelix
  • Dasatinib
  • Dapsone
  • Dabrafenib
  • Cyclobenzaprine
  • Crizotinib
  • Conivaptan
  • Colchicine
  • Clozapine
  • Clarithromycin
  • Cisapride
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Chloroquine
  • Buserelin
  • Bepridil
  • Bedaquiline
  • Azithromycin
  • Atazanavir
  • Astemizole
  • Asenapine
  • Artemether
  • Arsenic Trioxide
  • Aripiprazole
  • Apomorphine
  • Anagrelide
  • Amitriptyline
  • Amisulpride
  • Amiodarone
  • Amifampridine
  • Alfuzosin

The use of this treatment in conjunction with the following treatments would not normally be recommended. Your doctor may wish to adjust the dose or frequency of one of these medications:

  • Zolpidem
  • Vorapaxar
  • Vincristine Sulfate Liposome
  • Vincristine
  • Vilazodone
  • Vardenafil
  • Trabectedin
  • Tipranavir
  • Ticagrelor
  • Temsirolimus
  • Tamsulosin
  • Tadalafil
  • Suvorexant
  • Sunitinib
  • St. John's Wort
  • Sonidegib
  • Sirolimus
  • Simeprevir
  • Salmeterol
  • Ruxolitinib
  • Rosuvastatin
  • Rifapentine
  • Rifabutin
  • Retapamulin
  • Regorafenib
  • Reboxetine
  • Rabeprazole
  • Primidone
  • Ponatinib
  • Pixantrone
  • Phenytoin
  • Phenobarbital
  • Pantoprazole
  • Palbociclib
  • Oxycodone
  • Orlistat
  • Omeprazole
  • Olaparib
  • Nifedipine
  • Nevirapine
  • Nelfinavir
  • Methadone
  • Manidipine
  • Macitentan
  • Lopinavir
  • Loperamide
  • Levomilnacipran
  • Lansoprazole
  • Lacosamide
  • Ixabepilone
  • Ivacaftor
  • Irinotecan Liposome
  • Irinotecan
  • Indinavir
  • Ifosfamide
  • Idelalisib
  • Ibrutinib
  • Hydrocodone
  • Garlic
  • Fusidic Acid
  • Fosphenytoin
  • Fosaprepitant
  • Fosamprenavir
  • Fluticasone
  • Fentanyl
  • Everolimus
  • Eszopiclone
  • Esomeprazole
  • Erlotinib
  • Enzalutamide
  • Eluxadoline
  • Docetaxel
  • Digoxin
  • Dexlansoprazole
  • Dexamethasone
  • Delavirdine
  • Darunavir
  • Daclatasvir
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Cobimetinib
  • Cobicistat
  • Clomipramine
  • Citalopram
  • Cilostazol
  • Ceritinib
  • Cariprazine
  • Carbamazepine
  • Calcifediol
  • Cabozantinib
  • Cabazitaxel
  • Bromocriptine
  • Brexpiprazole
  • Brentuximab Vedotin
  • Bosutinib
  • Bosentan
  • Boceprevir
  • Axitinib
  • Avanafil
  • Atorvastatin
  • Aprepitant
  • Amprenavir
  • Afatinib
  • Ado-Trastuzumab Emtansine

Use of these treatments alongside Saquinavir can increase the risk of patients experiencing certain side effects. Use of both treatments may still be the best option for you, but your doctor may wish to adjust the frequency of use or the dose prescribed.

  • Warfarin
  • Nilvadipine
  • Lacidipine
  • Itraconazole
  • Gallopamil
  • Flunarizine
  • Cyclosporine
  • Cimetidine
  • Cerivastatin
  • Alfentanil

This list has been chosen for severity of interaction and may not include all interactions. You must ensure that you inform your doctor of all medications that you are taking before beginning this treatment.

Other medical problems from which the patient suffers can also affect the use of this treatment. You should inform your doctor of all medical conditions you have or have had in the past. This is especially important with the following:

  • History of alcoholism
  • History of arrhythmias
  • History of congestive heart failure
  • History of heart disease
  • History of heart rhythm problems
  • Hemophilia
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Liver disease

These conditions can increase the risk of experiencing serious side effects

These conditions may be worsened by treatment

  • Heart block without a pacemaker
  • History of heart rhythm problems
  • Severe liver disease

Do not use in patients who are suffering from these conditions

  • Intolerance to lactose

The capsules used to administer this treatment contain lactose

Other medical conditions not listed herein may also impact the use of this treatment. These conditions have been listed for severity of interaction and you should ensure that your doctor is fully aware of all medical conditions from which you suffer.


Before using Saquinavir, you should consider the benefits of use in relation to the risks of using this treatment. You should consider the following with your doctor in order to reach this decision:


Inform your doctor of any allergic reactions you have ever suffered to any medications in the past. Inform them of any other allergies you have including to dyes, preservatives, foods, animals, and other substances. The capsules used to administer Saquinavir contain lactose.


Safety and efficiency of the use of this medication has not been established in children below the age of 16.


Elderly patients are more likely to have kidney, liver, heart and cardiovascular problems that may impact the use of Saquinavir. There are no known limitations to the use of Saquinavir in the elderly, however.


Discuss the use of this treatment when pregnant with your doctor. Due to the presence of the HIV virus in the patient, patients may be advised to avoid becoming pregnant, as this virus will be passed on to the newborn baby. This medication, however, poses minimal risk to the fetus.


There have been no adequate studies to determine the risk of use of this treatment when breastfeeding. Discuss this with your doctor.

During use you will need to have regular check-ups with your doctor to ensure that the medication is working properly, to check for unwanted side effects and to ensure that the spread of HIV through the body is being effectively controlled.

Certain medications should not be used in conjunction with this treatment. Ensure that you check all treatments that you are taking with your doctor before use. This includes herbal remedies, other counter medications, prescription drugs and other prescription medications.

This medication can prevent the effectiveness of oral contraceptives. Discuss other forms of contraception with your doctor. You may wish to use condoms, a diaphragm or contraceptive foam as additional protection.

You should contact your doctor immediately if you have any changes to your heart rhythm. This can be a sign of a developing heart problem and you should seek emergency medical care.

This medication can increase blood sugar levels and impact other medical conditions related to these. You should contact your doctor if you notice changes to your blood or urine sugar tests.

Serious liver problems can occur with treatment. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience these symptoms of liver problems:

  • Pain in the stomach
  • Darkened urine
  • Loss of hunger
  • Nausea
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Unusual weakness
  • Yellow skin
  • Yellow eyes

Your immune system can begin to improve when you begin use of this treatment. If you notice any changes in your health then you should inform your doctor. In some cases, conditions that were not being fought can begin to be affected by the immune system. Changes in health may highlight other conditions that were not previously noticed that will need to be treated. These underlying conditions can often include:

This medication can cause a build-up of excess body fat. If you notice changes to the shape of your body then you should inform your doctor.

Saquinavir does nothing to prevent the spread of HIV to other people. Remember that it is your legal responsibility to prevent the spread of HIV to others and it is a criminal offense to knowingly allow the spread of the virus to others. HIV can be spread through sexual contact, through blood, and through body fluids including vaginal fluid, blood, and semen. If you are infected you should avoid any sexual contact or exchange of bodily fluids with other people. If you do have sexual intercourse with your partner then you should inform that you are infected before doing so. You should always wear condoms made of latex and you should wear them every time you have oral, anal or vaginal intercourse. Spermicide can also help in preventing the spread of the virus to your partner. You should avoid lubricants and substances that can cause condoms to break during intercourse. Lubricants including K-Y jelly that do not contain oils are recommended for use instead. Birth control contraceptives including the pill and diaphragms can help to protect against pregnancy, but will not protect against transmission of the infection to another person.

If you are a drug user then you should seek help to stop this. If you do take drugs, however, then you should not share a needle as this practice can spread the virus to others.

Becoming pregnant while infected with HIV will mean that your child will be born with the virus. You should discuss this with your doctor before becoming pregnant. You should take extra precautions to prevent yourself from becoming pregnant once you have been infected with HIV.


This medication should be stored at room temperature in a sealed container. Keep medication away from heat, moisture, and direct light.

Prevent this medication from freezing.

Do not keep this medication once it is outdated or for longer than required and ensure that it is disposed of properly and safely.


Saquinavir is used in conjunction with ritonavir or other medications in order to help in the treatment of HIV in patients.

This is not a treatment for HIV and nor is it a protection against the transmission of HIV. Instead, this treatment helps to slow the reproduction of the HIV virus in the body. In doing so it can slow the spread of the virus and slow the destruction of the immune system that is experienced by the patient.

This medication is taken as a tablet or capsule as prescribed by a doctor and is taken indefinitely by the patient. This medication should not be stopped unless directed to by a doctor and the patient is changed to an alternative medication. Patients using this treatment may be able to enjoy a relatively normal life and health conditions may begin to improve once the treatment is given.

As the immune system improves this can uncover other illnesses that the patient did not know they had which may then need to be treated. The patient should beware of changes to health and should inform the doctor of these changes during regular check-ups. The doctor will also need to check the patient is responding to the medication appropriately and has not developed any unwanted side effects from the treatment.

Patients who have contracted the HIV virus can pass it on to others through the exchange of bodily fluids and it is the legal responsibility of the infected party to prevent this from occurring. It is best to avoid sexual contact with other people and to avoid situations in which there is an exchange of bodily fluids. If you do have sex with your partner then they must be made aware of your infection and steps must be taken to prevent the transfer of infection to your partner.

Patients infected with HIV should be aware that the virus will be passed on to a fetus if they become pregnant once infected. The patient should discuss this with their doctor and will be advised not to procreate and to follow rigorous contraceptive practices in order to avoid pregnancy. Contraceptive pills may be made less effective by the use of this treatment.

Consider all possible side effects and interactions with other medications and other medical conditions before beginning treatment with Saquinavir.

Always ensure that you take this medication and other prescribed medications exactly as directed.


Last Reviewed:
February 01, 2018
Last Updated:
April 05, 2018
Content Source: