ritonavir (Norvir)

Brand Names: Norvir

Generic Name: ritonavir

What is ritonavir (Norvir)?

Ritonavir is an antiviral medicine that prevents human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from multiplying in your body.

Ritonavir is used together with other antiviral medicines to treat HIV, the virus that can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Ritonavir is not a cure for HIV or AIDS.

Ritonavir may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of ritonavir (Norvir)?

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction (hives, skin sores, difficult breathing, fast or pounding heartbeats, sweating, mouth sores, swelling in your face or throat) or a severe skin reaction (fever, sore throat, burning eyes, skin pain, red or purple skin rash with blistering and peeling).

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • irregular heartbeats, or a light-headed feeling (like you might pass out);
  • easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin;
  • high blood sugar--increased thirst, increased urination, hunger, dry mouth, fruity breath odor; or
  • signs of liver or pancreas problems--loss of appetite, upper stomach pain (that may spread to your back), nausea, vomiting, dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Ritonavir affects your immune system, which may cause certain side effects (even weeks or months after you've taken this medicine). Tell your doctor if you have:

  • signs of a new infection--fever, night sweats, swollen glands, cold sores, cough, wheezing, diarrhea, weight loss;
  • trouble speaking or swallowing, problems with balance or eye movement, weakness or prickly feeling; or
  • swelling in your neck or throat (enlarged thyroid), menstrual changes, impotence.

Common side effects may include:

  • nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea;
  • numbness or tingling in your hands or feet or around your mouth;
  • feeling weak or tired;
  • rash; or
  • changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your arms, legs, face, neck, breasts, and waist).

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is the most important information I should know about ritonavir (Norvir)?

Serious drug interactions can occur when certain medicines are used with ritonavir. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking ritonavir (Norvir)?

Serious drug interactions can occur when certain medicines are used with ritonavir. Your doctor may need to change your treatment plan if you use any of the following drugs:

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

Ritonavir liquid contains alcohol and propylene glycol, and should not be used by pregnant women or premature babies.

Tell your doctor if you become pregnant, and use your medications properly to control your infection. HIV can be passed to your baby if the virus is not controlled during pregnancy. Your name may be listed on a registry to track any effects of antiviral medicine on the baby.

Ritonavir can make birth control pills less effective. Ask your doctor about using a non-hormonal birth control (condom, diaphragm with spermicide) to prevent pregnancy.

Women with HIV or AIDS should not breast feed a baby. Even if your baby is born without HIV, the virus may be passed to the baby in your breast milk.

How should I take ritonavir (Norvir)?

Ritonavir must be given in combination with other antiviral medications and it should not be used alone. Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Ritonavir tablets must be taken with meals. Ritonavir capsules or liquid should be taken with food if possible.

Swallow the tablet whole and do not crush, chew, or break it.

Shake the oral solution (liquid) before you measure a dose. Use the dosing syringe provided, or use a medicine dose-measuring device (not a kitchen spoon).

Liquid ritonavir can be mixed with chocolate milk or a nutrition drink such as Ensure. Drink the mixture within 1 hour after mixing.

Ritonavir oral powder should be mixed with soft food such as applesauce or pudding. You may also mix the powder with water, chocolate milk, or infant formula.

Follow your doctor's dosing instructions very carefully when giving ritonavir to an infant. Tell your doctor when the child has changes in weight or height. Ritonavir doses are based on body surface area in children.

Use all HIV medications as directed and read all medication guides you receive. Do not change your dose or dosing schedule without your doctor's advice. Every person with HIV should remain under the care of a doctor.

You will need frequent medical tests.

If you've ever had hepatitis B, using ritonavir can cause this virus to become active or get worse. You may need frequent liver function tests while using this medicine and for several months after you stop.

Store ritonavir capsules in the refrigerator or at room temperature, away from heat or moisture. If you store the capsules at room temperature you must use them within 30 days. Protect from light.

Store the tablets, liquid, or powder at room temperature away from heat or moisture. Store the liquid with the cap tightly closed. Do not refrigerate.

What happens if I miss a dose (Norvir)?

Take the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.

Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely.

What happens if I overdose (Norvir)?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. An overdose of ritonavir oral liquid could be fatal to a child.

What should I avoid while taking ritonavir (Norvir)?

Ritonavir capsules and liquid contain alcohol. Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages while using this medicine, and do not take disulfiram (Antabuse) or you could have an alcohol reaction.

Using this medicine will not prevent your disease from spreading. Do not have unprotected sex or share razors or toothbrushes. Talk with your doctor about safe ways to prevent HIV transmission during sex. Sharing drug or medicine needles is never safe, even for a healthy person.

What other drugs will affect ritonavir (Norvir)?

Sometimes it is not safe to use certain medications at the same time. Some drugs can affect your blood levels of other drugs you take, which may increase side effects or make the medications less effective.

Many drugs can affect ritonavir, and some drugs should not be used at the same time. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed here.

Where can I get more information (Norvir)?

Your pharmacist can provide more information about ritonavir.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

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