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What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking nelfinavir (Viracept)?
You should not take this medication if you are allergic to nelfinavir, or if you have severe liver or kidney disease.
Do not take nelfinavir with amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone), quinidine (Quinaglute, Quinidex), pimozide (Orap), midazolam (Versed), triazolam (Halcion), or an ergot medicine such as Ergomar, Cafergot, Wigraine, D.H.E. 45, Migranal, or Methergine. These medications can cause life-threatening side effects if you use them while you are taking nelfinavir.
If you have any of these other conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely take nelfinavir.
FDA pregnancy category B. This medication is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby, but HIV can be passed to the baby if the mother is not properly treated during pregnancy. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment. Take all of your HIV medicines as directed to control your infection while you are pregnant.
Nelfinavir can make birth control pills less effective. Ask your doctor about using a non-hormone method of birth control (such as a condom, diaphragm, spermicide) to prevent pregnancy while taking nelfinavir.
If you are pregnant, your name may need to be listed on an antiviral pregnancy registry when you start using this medication.
You should not breast-feed while you are using nelfinavir. Women with HIV or AIDS should not breast-feed at all. Even if your baby is born without HIV, you may still pass the virus to the baby in your breast milk.
Do not give this medication to a child younger than 2 years old.
The powder form of nelfinavir may contain phenylalanine. Talk to your doctor before using this form of nelfinavir if you have phenylketonuria (PKU).
How should I take nelfinavir (Viracept)?
A European version of nelfinavir was found to have high levels of an impurity known to cause cancer in animals. This impurity is created during the manufacturing process but can be minimized. Nelfinavir in the U.S. is not made by the same manufacturer as the European version, and the U.S. version was found to have lower levels of the impurity.
It is not known whether this impurity has caused harm to anyone taking nelfinavir, and it is important to keep treating your condition. Children and pregnant women should not take nelfinavir as a "first-line" treatment. If you already take nelfinavir your doctor may recommend that you keep taking it. Do not stop taking nelfinavir or change your dose without your doctor's advice.
Take nelfinavir exactly as it was prescribed for you. Do not take the medication in larger amounts, or take it for longer than recommended by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label.
This medication comes with patient instructions for safe and effective use. Follow these directions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
Take nelfinavir with a full glass (8 ounces) of water.
Nelfinavir works best if you take it with food.
Swallow the nelfinavir tablet whole.
If you cannot swallow a whole tablet, dissolve it in a small amount of water. Stir this mixture and drink all of it right away. To make sure you get the entire dose, add a little more water to the same glass, swirl gently and drink right away.
A dose of nelfinavir powder must be mixed with liquid. You may use water, milk, formula, soy formula, soy milk, or a dietary supplement. Do not mix the powder with apple juice, orange juice, or other acidic juices or foods. Do not add the liquid directly to the bottle of nelfinavir powder.
Drink the mixture right away. If the mixture is not used right away, it may be stored in a refrigerator for up to 6 hours.
It is important to use nelfinavir regularly to get the most benefit. Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely.
HIV/AIDS is usually treated with a combination of different drugs. To best treat your condition, use all of your medications as directed by your doctor. Be sure to read the medication guide or patient instructions provided with each of your medications. Do not change your doses or medication schedule without advice from your doctor. Every person with HIV or AIDS should remain under the care of a doctor.
To be sure nelfinavir is helping your condition, your blood will need to be tested on a regular basis. Your liver function may also need to be tested. Do not miss any scheduled visits to your doctor.
Store nelfinavir at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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