Generic Name: saquinavir

Pronunciation: IN-ver-ase

Abbreviation: SQV

Other Market Name: N/A

Drug Class: Protease Inhibitors (PIs)

Company: Genentech, a division of Roche

Approval Status: Approved

Generic Version Available: No

Experimental Code: N/A

Drug Indication

Not part of a recommended or alternative treatment regimen for antiretroviral-naive people living with HIV, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents. Visit for the full DHHS guidelines.

General Info

Invirase is an HIV medication. It is in a category of HIV medicines called protease inhibitors. Invirase was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use by people living with HIV in December 1995.

Invirase must be combined with Norvir (ritonavir) and other HIV drugs.


Adult Dose: Two 500mg tablets plus one 100mg Norvir tablet (or capsule), twice a day

Pediatric Dose: N/A

Dosing Info: Take with food, preferably a meal, or within 2 hours after a meal.

Side Effects

Common side effects include appetite loss, headaches, feeling crummy (malaise),diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

Some people may experience increases in their lipid levels (triglycerides and cholesterol) or diabetes risk while being treated with protease inhibitors, including Norvir.

In rare cases, Invirase/Norvir can increase the risk of heart rhythm disturbances, called QT interval prolongation or a condition called torsades de pointes. The abnormalities—which can be detected using an electrocardiogram—can also lead to interrupted electrical impulses to the heart muscle, technically referred to as heart block. Both conditions can lead to lightheadedness, fainting or abnormal heart beats. In some cases, torsades de pointes can progress to life-threatening irregular heart beat known as ventricular fibrillation. People who already have these conditions should not use Invirase/Norvir.

Drug-induced hepatitis (liver injury) has been reported in people taking protease inhibitors, including Norvir-boosted Invirase. This usually occurred in people who had extremely low CD4 cells, were taking multiple other medications and who were also infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV). Lab tests to monitor liver function is an important component of routine follow-up care and important for people using protease inhibitors.

Drug Interactions

Invirase, particularly when combined with Norvir, can increase or decrease the levels of many other drugs in the body, potentially increasing the risk of serious side effects or decreasing the effectiveness of treatment (some coadministered drugs can also decrease or increase Invirase levels in the bloodstream). There are several prescription and over-the-count drugs and supplements that should not be taken with Invirase/Norvir. Combining Invirase/Norvir with some medications may also require dose adjustments to accommodate for drug-drug interactions. Consult the Invirase package insert for more details:

Other Info

Before taking this medication, tell your doctor if you have kidney disease or liver disease (including hepatitis B). In addition, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, if you are breastfeeding, and all your medical conditions.

It is also very important that your health care provider and pharmacist know all prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements you are taking at all times while using an HIV treatment regimen that contains Invirase.

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Last Reviewed: July 15, 2016