Generic name: AmprenavirBrand names: Agenerase
Agenerase is one of the many drugs now used to combat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. HIV undermines the immune system, reducing the body's ability to fight off other infections and eventually leading to the deadly condition known as acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Agenerase slows the progress of HIV by interfering with an important step in the virus's reproductive cycle. The drug is a member of the group of "protease inhibitors" famous for having successfully halted the advance of the virus in many HIV-positive individuals. Agenerase is prescribed only as part of a "drug cocktail" that attacks the virus on several fronts. It is not used alone.
Agenerase is not a cure for HIV infection or AIDS. It does not completely eliminate HIV from the body or totally restore the immune system. There is still a danger of developing serious opportunistic infections (infections that develop when the immune system falters). It's important, therefore, to continue seeing your doctor for regular blood counts and tests. And notify your doctor immediately of any changes in your general health.
With the exception of high-fat meals, Agenerase may be taken with or without food. (Excessive fat decreases the amount of medicine that gets into the bloodstream.)
It is important to keep adequate levels of the drug in your bloodstream at all times, so be sure to take Agenerase exactly as prescribed, even when you're feeling better. Do not substitute Agenerase oral solution for the capsules. The two are not interchangeable.
If you are also taking antacids or the HIV drug didanosine, be sure to allow at least 1 hour between a dose of either medicine and a dose of Agenerase.
Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, inform your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking Agenerase.
If Agenerase gives you an allergic reaction, you will not be able to use it. Agenerase oral solution should be taken only when the capsule form is not an option. The oral solution contains an ingredient, propylene glycol, that some people have difficulty processing. It should not be taken by children under age 4, pregnant women, people with kidney or liver failure, or anyone who is also taking disulfiram or metronidazole. It should be used with caution by women and individuals who have an Asian, Eskimo, or Native American ethnic background. Possible reactions to the propylene glycol in Agenerase oral solution include seizures, drowsiness, and fast heartbeat.
Remember that Agenerase does not completely eliminate HIV, and that it is still possible to pass the virus to others through sexual contact or blood contamination. Continue to practice safe sex while using Agenerase.
Agenerase can interfere with oral contraceptives. Use a backup form of birth control (such as condoms) to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.
Agenerase must be used with caution if you have kidney or liver problems. If you have such a disorder, make sure your doctor is aware of it.
Do not take vitamin E supplements with Agenerase. Agenerase is already fortified with vitamin E.
One serious potential side effect of Agenerase is a rash that occasionally becomes so severe as to be life-threatening. If you notice any signs of rash, inform your doctor immediately. If the rash gets worse or is accompanied by fever, blisters, mouth sores, red eyes, swelling, or flu-like symptoms, stop taking the drug and call your doctor.
Agenerase may trigger diabetes or make it worse. If this occurs, you may have to start taking insulin or oral diabetes drugs, or have your dosage of these medications adjusted. Agenerase can also increase cholesterol levels, possibly resulting in the need for treatment.
Like other protease inhibitors, Agenerase may also lead to a redistribution of body fat, with an increase in weight around the middle and on the upper back, and a loss of fat in the arms and legs. The long-term health effects of this change are still unknown.
Agenerase belongs to the sulfonamide family of drugs. If you have an allergy to other sulfa drugs, such as sulfamethoxazole, be sure to tell your doctor.
Be sure to check with your doctor about the medicines and herbal remedies that should NOT be taken with Agenerase. Due to the danger of life-threatening side effects, Agenerase should never be combined with dihydroergotamine, ergonovine, ergotamine, methylergonovine, pimozide, midazolam, or triazolam. Serious or life-threatening side effects can also occur when Agenerase is taken with amiodarone, lidocaine, lovastatin, quinidine, simvastatin, or tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline hydrochloride and imipramine hydrochloride. If you are taking both Agenerase and the HIV drug ritonavir, you must be careful to avoid the heart medications flecainide and propafenone.
Rifampin and St. John's wort should be avoided because they combat the antiviral effects of Agenerase. Combining Agenerase oral solution with ritonavir oral solution is not recommended. And while taking Agenerase oral solution, it's best to avoid drinking alcohol.
Taking Agenerase with the antidepressant trazodone may have effects such as nausea, dizziness, low blood pressure, and fainting. Talk with your doctor about alternate medication options.
Be cautious, too, about combining Agenerase and Viagra. The combination increases the risk of Viagra-related side effects such as low blood pressure, changes in vision, and persistent painful erection.
A variety of other drugs may also interact with Agenerase. Here is a list of the major possibilities.AbacavirAmiodaroneAntacids such as Maalox and MylantaAntidepressants classified as "tricyclics," such as amitriptyline hydrochloride, imipramine hydrochloride, nortriptyline hydrochloride, andBenzodiazepine drugs used to treat anxiety, including alprazolam, clorazepate dipotassium, diazepam, and flurazepam hydrochlorideCalcium Channel Blockers (used for high blood pressure and angina), including amlodipine besylate, felodipine, diltiazem hydrochloride, isradipine, nicardipine hydrochloride, nifedipine, nisoldipine, and verapamil hydrochlorideCarbamazepineCholesterol-lowering agents such as atorvastatin calcium, lovastatin, and simvastatinCimetidineClarithromycinClozapineCyclosporineDapsoneDelavirdineDexamethasoneDidanosineDihydroergotamineDisulfiramEfavirenzErgonovineErgotamineErythromycinFluticasoneIndinavirItraconazoleKetoconazoleLidocaineLopinavir/ritonavirLoratadineMethadoneMethylergonovineMetronidazoleMidazolamNelfinavirNevirapineOral contraceptivesPhenobarbitalPhenytoinPimozideQuinidineRapamycinRifabutinRifampinRitonavirSt. John's wortSaquinavirSildenafilTacrolimusTrazodoneTriazolamWarfarinZidovudine
The effects of Agenerase during pregnancy have not been adequately studied. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, tell your doctor immediately. Do not take the oral solution while pregnant.
Since HIV infection can be passed to your baby through breast milk, you should avoid breastfeeding.
The usual dosage for adults and adolescents 13 years of age and over is 1,200 milligrams (eight 150-milligram capsules) twice a day in combination with other anti-HIV medications. When combined with Norvir, the recommended dosage is 1,200 milligrams of Agenerase and 200 milligrams of Norvir once a day, or half that amount twice a day.
The usual dose for adults and children 13 years of age and over is 1,400 milligrams twice a day in combination with other anti-HIV medications.
The recommended dosage for children between 4 and 12 years old (and those over 13 who weigh 110 pounds or less) is as follows.
20 milligrams per 2.2 pounds of body weight twice a day or 15 milligrams per 2.2 pounds of body weight 3 times daily in combination with other anti-HIV medications.
22.5 milligrams per 2.2 pounds of body weight twice a day or 17.5 milligrams per 2.2 pounds of body weight 3 times daily in combination with other anti-HIV medications.
Dosage should never exceed 2,400 milligrams daily in capsule form or 2,800 milligrams daily of oral solution.
THOSE WITH REDUCED LIVER FUNCTION
The doctor will prescribe a reduced dosage ranging from 300 milligrams twice a day to 450 milligrams twice a day depending on the amount of liver damage you've suffered.
Little is known about the symptoms of Agenerase overdose. However, any medication taken in excess can have serious consequences. If you suspect an overdose, seek medical attention immediately.