A Project of the New Mexico AIDS Education and Training Center. Partially funded by the National Library of Medicine
Fact Sheets can be downloaded from the Internet at http://www.aidsinfonet.org
AIDS InfoNet www.aidsinfonet.org
Fact Sheet Number 443
WHAT IS SAQUINAVIR?
Saquinavir, also called Invirase®, is a
drug used as part of antiretroviral therapy
(ART). There used to be a version called
Fortovase® that is no longer sold in the
is manufactured by Roche
Saquinavir is a protease inhibitor. These
drugs prevent the protease enzyme from
working. HIV protease acts
chemical scissors. It cuts the raw material
for HIV into specific pieces needed to
build a new virus. Protease inhibitors
“gum up” these scissors.
The first version of saquinavir was
Invirase. It worked well for some people,
it was not absorbed very well.
Fortovase was developed.
absorbed much better, so more of the
drug got into the bloodstream. However,
ritonavir (see fact sheet 442) is a very
effective way to boost Invirase levels.
discontinued in 2006. See “How Is It
Taken” below for more information.
WHO SHOULD TAKE IT?
Saquinavir was approved in 1995 as an
antiretroviral drug (ARV) for people with
HIV infection. There are no absolute rules
about when to start ART. You and your
health care provider should consider your
CD4 count, your viral
symptoms you are having, and your
attitude about taking ARVs. Fact Sheet
guidelines for the use of ART.
If you take saquinavir with other ARVs,
you can reduce your viral
extremely low levels, and increase your
CD4 counts. This should mean staying
Many new copies of HIV are mutations.
They are slightly different from the original
virus. Some mutations
multiplying even when you are taking an
ARV. When this happe