Ritonavir (By mouth)


Ritonavir (rit-OH-na-vir)
Used with other medicines to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. HIV causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Ritonavir does not cure HIV or AIDS, but it may slow the worsening of the disease.

Brand Name(s)

There may be other brand names for this medicine.


When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to ritonavir. Do not use this medicine together with alfuzosin (Uroxatral®), amiodarone (Cordarone®), astemizole (Hismanal®), bepridil (Vascor®), cisapride (Propulsid®), ergot medicines (such as dihydroergotamine, ergonovine, ergotamine, methylergonovine, Cafergot®, Methergine®, or Migranal®), flecainide (Tambocor®), lovastatin (Altocor®, Mevacor®), oral midazolam (Versed®), pimozide (Orap®), propafenone (Rythmol®), quinidine (Cardioquin®), sildenafil (Revatio®), simvastatin (Simcor®, Vytorin®, Zocor®), terfenadine (Seldane®), triazolam (Halcion®), voriconazole (Vfend®), or St. John's wort.

How to Use This Medicine

Liquid Filled Capsule, Liquid, Tablet
  • Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to use and how often. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • It is best to take this medicine with food or milk.
  • Swallow the tablet whole. Do not break, crush, or chew it.
  • Shake the oral liquid medicine thoroughly before each use. Measure the medicine with a marked measuring spoon or medicine cup. You can mix the oral liquid with chocolate milk or nutritional drinks (such as Ensure® or Advera®) to make it taste better. You should drink this medicine within one hour of mixing.
  • Take all other medicines your doctor has prescribed as part of your combination treatment. Do not change your dose or stop using your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.
  • This medicine works best if there is a constant amount in the blood. To keep blood levels constant, take this medicine at the same time each day and do not miss any doses. Also, when your supply of this medicine is running low, contact your doctor or pharmacist ahead of time. Do not allow yourself to run out of this medicine.
  • If you also use didanosine (Videx®), take it at least 2 hours and 30 minutes before or after taking ritonavir.
  • This medicine comes with patient instructions. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
If a dose is missed:
  • If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to use the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine

  • Store the capsules in the refrigerator or at room temperature in a closed container. If stored at room temperature, use the medicine within 30 days. Keep away from heat and direct light.
  • Store the liquid or tablets in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat and direct light. Do not refrigerate.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any leftover medicine after you have finished your treatment. You will also need to throw away old medicine after the expiration date has passed.
  • Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.
  • You must avoid many other medicines while you are using ritonavir. Using these medicines together could cause serious health problems. Make sure your doctor knows if you are using fluticasone (such as Advair® or Flonase®), rifabutin (Mycobutin®), rifampin (Rifadin®, Rifamate®, Rifater®, Rimactane®), salmeterol (Serevent®), sildenafil (Viagra®), tadalafil (Adcirca?, Cialis®), vardenafil (Levitra®), or medicine to lower cholesterol (such as atorvastatin, rosuvastatin, Crestor®, or Lipitor®). Tell your doctor if you are also using other medicines to treat HIV or AIDS (such as atazanavir, darunavir, delavirdine, didanosine, fosamprenavir, indinavir, maraviroc, saquinavir, tipranavir, Crixivan®, Fortovase®, Invirase®, Lexiva®, Prezista®, Rescriptor®, Reyataz®, or Videx®), a narcotic pain medicine (such as tramadol, propoxyphene, meperidine, methadone, Darvon®, or Ultram®), other medicine for blood pressure (such as diltiazem, metoprolol, nifedipine, timolol, verapamil, Adalat®, Cardizem®, Toprol®, or Verelan®), medicine for heart rhythm problems (such as digoxin, disopyramide, lidocaine, mexiletine, Lanoxin®, Mexitil®, or Norpace®), or a blood thinner (such as warfarin, Coumadin®).
  • Tell your doctor if you are also using atovaquone (Mepron®), bosentan (Tracleer®), colchicine (Colcrys®), quinine, medicine to treat seizures (such as carbamazepine, clonazepam, divalproex, ethosuximide, lamotrigine, phenytoin, Dilantin®, Klonopin®, or Tegretol®), medicine for depression (such as bupropion, desipramine, fluoxetine, nefazodone, trazodone, Prozac®, or Serzone®), medicine to treat vomiting (such as dronabinol, Marinol®), or medicine for infection (such as clarithromycin, ketoconazole, itraconazole, voriconazole, Nizoral®, or Sporanox®).
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using birth control pills (such as ethinyl estradiol), asthma medicine (such as theophylline, Theo-24®, Uniphyl®), cancer medicine (such as vincristine, vinblastine, or Oncovin®), medicine that weakens the immune system (such as cyclosporine, tacrolimus, sirolimus, Neoral®, Prograf®, Rapamune®, or Sandimmune®), medicine for mental illness (such as perphenazine, risperidone, thioridazine, or Risperdal®), medicine for sleep (such as buspirone, clorazepate, diazepam, estazolam, flurazepam, zolpidem, or Valium®), midazolam injection (Versed®), a steroid medicine (such as dexamethasone or prednisone), or a stimulant (such as methamphetamine, Desoxyn®).
  • The liquid form of this medicine contains alcohol. Tell your doctor if you are using, or plan to take disulfiram (Antabuse®) or metronidazole (Flagyl®).

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant, or if you have kidney disease, liver disease (including hepatitis B or C), diabetes, heart disease, heart rhythm problems (such as PR prolongation), pancreas problems, or a bleeding disorder known as hemophilia.
  • You should not breast feed if you have HIV or AIDS, because you may give the infection to your baby through your breast milk.
  • This medicine will not keep you from giving HIV to your partner during sex. Make sure you understand and practice safe sex, even if your partner also has HIV. Do not share needles with anyone.
  • Serious skin reactions can occur with this medicine. Check with your doctor right away if you or your child have more than one of the following symptoms while using this medicine: blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin; fever; chills; itching; joint or muscle pain; rash; red skin lesions; sore throat; sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips; or swelling of your hands, face, tongue, or throat.
  • Liver problems may occur while you are using this medicine. Stop using this medicine and check with your doctor right away if you or your child are having more than one of these symptoms: stomach pain or tenderness; clay-colored stools; dark urine; decreased appetite; fever; headache; itching; loss of appetite; nausea and vomiting; skin rash; swelling of the feet or lower legs; unusual tiredness or weakness; or yellow eyes or skin.
  • Pancreatitis may occur while you are using this medicine. Stop using this medicine and check with your doctor right away if you or your child have sudden and severe stomach pain, chills, constipation, nausea, vomiting, fever, or lightheadedness.
  • This medicine may increase the level of cholesterol and fats in your blood. If this condition occurs, your doctor may give you a medicine to lower the cholesterol and fats. Talk to your doctor if you or your child have concerns.
  • When you start taking HIV medicines, your immune system may get stronger. If you or your child have infections that are hidden in your body, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis, you may notice new symptoms when your body tries to fight them. If this occurs, be sure to tell your doctor.
  • Birth control pills may not work while you are using ritonavir. To keep from getting pregnant, use another form of birth control. Other forms include condoms, a diaphragm, or contraceptive foam or jelly.
  • This medicine may cause you to have excess body fat. Tell your doctor if you or your child notice changes in your body shape, such as an increased amount of fat in the upper back and neck, or around the chest and stomach area. You might also lose fat from the legs, arms, and face.
  • Tell your doctor about all of the medications you or your child are taking since the dose of ritonavir or other medications you take may need to be adjusted.
  • Your doctor will need to check your progress at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
  • Do not stop using this medicine suddenly without asking your doctor. You may need to slowly decrease your dose before stopping it completely. This is very important because the amount of virus in your blood may increase and become harder to treat.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:
  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing.
  • Blistering, peeling, or red skin rash.
  • Change in how much or how often you urinate, or painful urination.
  • Chest pain, or fast, slow, or uneven heartbeat.
  • Dark-colored urine or pale stools.
  • Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches.
  • Increased hunger or thirst.
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting.
  • Numbness, tingling, burning, or pain in your hands or feet.
  • Red or black stools.
  • Seizures (convulsions).
  • Sudden and severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite.
  • Sudden or severe headache, problems with vision, speech, or walking.
  • Swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet.
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness.
  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.
If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:
  • Burning or tingling around your mouth.
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or upset stomach.
  • Gaining weight around your neck, upper back, breast, face, or waist.
  • Mild headache.
  • Mild skin rash or itching.
  • Unusual or bad taste in your mouth.

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088
Review Date: 2011-02-04 Reviewed By: Keywords: ,
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