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Questions & Answers

Side Effects & Adverse Reactions

ALERT: Find out about medicines that should not be taken with VIRACEPT. This statement is included on the product's bottle label.

Drug Interactions

(also see PRECAUTIONS)

Nelfinavir is an inhibitor of the CYP3A enzyme. Coadministration of VIRACEPT and drugs primarily metabolized by CYP3A may result in increased plasma concentrations of the other drug that could increase or prolong its therapeutic and adverse effects. Caution should be exercised when inhibitors of CYP3A, including VIRACEPT, are coadministered with drugs that are metabolized by CYP3A and that prolong the QT interval. (See ADVERSE REACTIONS: Post-Marketing Experience.) Nelfinavir is metabolized by CYP3A and CYP2C19. Coadministration of VIRACEPT and drugs that induce CYP3A or CYP2C19 may decrease nelfinavir plasma concentrations and reduce its therapeutic effect. Coadministration of VIRACEPT and drugs that inhibit CYP3A or CYP2C19 may increase nelfinavir plasma concentrations. (Also see PRECAUTIONS: Table 10: Drugs That Should Not Be Coadministered With VIRACEPT, Table 11: Established and Other Potentially Significant Drug Interactions.)

Concomitant use of VIRACEPT with lovastatin or simvastatin is not recommended. Caution should be exercised if HIV protease inhibitors, including VIRACEPT, are used concurrently with other HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors that are also metabolized by the CYP3A pathway (e.g., atorvastatin). (Also see Tables 6 and 7: Drug Interactions). The risk of myopathy including rhabdomyolysis may be increased when protease inhibitors, including VIRACEPT, are used in combination with these drugs.

Particular caution should be used when prescribing sildenafil, or other PDE5 inhibitors, in patients receiving protease inhibitors, including VIRACEPT. Coadministration of these drugs is expected to substantially increase PDE5 inhibitor concentrations and may result in an increase in PDE5 inhibitor-associated adverse events, including hypotension, visual changes, and priapism.  (See PRECAUTIONS, Drug Interactions and Information for Patients, and the complete prescribing information for sildenafil and other PDE5 inhibitors.)

Concomitant use of St. John's wort (hypericum perforatum) or St. John's wort containing products and VIRACEPT is not recommended. Coadministration of St. John's wort with protease inhibitors, including VIRACEPT, is expected to substantially decrease protease inhibitor concentrations and may result in sub-optimal levels of VIRACEPT and lead to loss of virologic response and possible resistance to VIRACEPT or to the class of protease inhibitors.

Patients with Phenylketonuria

Patients with Phenylketonuria: VIRACEPT Oral Powder contains 11.2 mg phenylalanine per gram of powder.

Diabetes mellitus/Hyperglycemia

New onset diabetes mellitus, exacerbation of pre-existing diabetes mellitus and hyperglycemia have been reported during post-marketing surveillance in HIV-infected patients receiving protease inhibitor therapy. Some patients required either initiation or dose adjustments of insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents for treatment of these events. In some cases diabetic ketoacidosis has occurred. In those patients who discontinued protease inhibitor therapy, hyperglycemia persisted in some cases. Because these events have been reported voluntarily during clinical practice, estimates of frequency cannot be made and a causal relationship between protease inhibitor therapy and these events has not been established.

Legal Issues

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FDA Safety Alerts

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Manufacturer Warnings

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FDA Labeling Changes

There are currently no FDA labeling changes available for this drug.


VIRACEPT in combination with other antiretroviral agents is indicated for the treatment of HIV infection.

Description of Studies

In the clinical studies described below, efficacy was evaluated by the percent of patients with plasma HIV RNA < 400 copies/mL (Studies 511 and 542) or < 500 copies/mL (Study ACTG 364), using the Roche RT-PCR (Amplicor) HIV-1 Monitor or < 50 copies/mL, using the Roche HIV-1 Ultrasensitive assay (Study Avanti 3). In the analysis presented in each figure, patients who terminated the study early for any reason, switched therapy due to inadequate efficacy or who had a missing HIV-RNA measurement that was either preceded or followed by a measurement above the limit of assay quantification were considered to have HIV-RNA above 400 copies/mL, above 500 copies/mL, or above 50 copies/mL at subsequent time points, depending on the assay that was used.

a. Studies in Antiretroviral Treatment Naïve Patients
Study 511: VIRACEPT + zidovudine + lamivudine versus zidovudine + lamivudine

Study 511 was a double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled trial comparing treatment with zidovudine (ZDV; 200 mg TID) and lamivudine (3TC; 150 mg BID) plus 2 doses of VIRACEPT (750 mg and 500 mg TID) to zidovudine (200 mg TID) and lamivudine (150 mg BID) alone in 297 antiretroviral naive HIV-1 infected patients (median age 35 years [range 21 to 63], 89% male and 78% Caucasian). Mean baseline CD4 cell count was 288 cells/mm3 and mean baseline plasma HIV RNA was 5.21 log10 copies/mL (160,394 copies/mL). The percent of patients with plasma HIV RNA < 400 copies/mL and mean changes in CD4 cell count are summarized in Figures 1 and 2, respectively.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Study 542: VIRACEPT BID + stavudine + lamivudine compared to VIRACEPT TID + stavudine + lamivudine

Study 542 is an ongoing, randomized, open-label trial comparing the HIV RNA suppression achieved by VIRACEPT 1250 mg BID versus VIRACEPT 750 mg TID in patients also receiving stavudine (d4T; 30–40 mg BID) and lamivudine (3TC; 150 mg BID). Patients had a median age of 36 years (range 18 to 83), were 84% male, and were 91% Caucasian. Patients had received less than 6 months of therapy with nucleoside transcriptase inhibitors and were naïve to protease inhibitors. Mean baseline CD4 cell count was 296 cells/mm3 and mean baseline plasma HIV RNA was 5.0 log10 copies/mL (100,706 copies/mL).

Results showed that there was no significant difference in mean CD4 cell count among treatment groups; the mean increases from baseline for the BID and TID arms were 150 cells/mm3 at 24 weeks and approximately 200 cells/mm3 at 48 weeks.

The percent of patients with HIV RNA < 400 copies/mL is summarized in Figure 3. The outcomes of patients through 48 weeks of treatment are summarized in Table 8.

Figure 3

Study 542: Percentage of Patients With HIV RNA Below 400 Copies/mL

Figure 3

Table 8 Outcomes of Randomized Treatment Through 48 Weeks
OutcomeVIRACEPT 1250 mg BID RegimenVIRACEPT 750 mg TID Regimen
Twelve patients in the BID arm and fourteen patients in the TID arm had not yet reached 48 weeks of therapy.
These rates only reflect dose-limiting toxicities that were counted as the initial reason for treatment failure in the analysis (see ADVERSE REACTIONS for a description of the safety profile of these regimens).
Consent withdrawn, lost to follow-up, intercurrent illness, noncompliance or missing data; all assumed as failures.
Number of patients evaluable*323192
HIV RNA < 400
198 (61%)111 (58%)
HIV RNA ≥ 400
46 (14%)22 (11%)
Discontinued due to VIRACEPT toxicity†9 (3%)2 (1%)
Discontinued due to other antiretroviral agents' toxicity†3 (1%)3 (2%)
Others‡67 (21%)54 (28%)
Study Avanti 3: VIRACEPT TID + zidovudine + lamivudine compared to zidovudine + lamivudine

Study Avanti 3 was a placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind study designed to evaluate the safety and efficacy of VIRACEPT (750 mg TID) in combination with zidovudine (ZDV; 300 mg BID) and lamivudine (3TC; 150 mg BID) (n=53) versus placebo in combination with ZDV and 3TC (n=52) administered to antiretroviral-naive patients with HIV infection and a CD4 cell count between 150 and 500 cells/µL. Patients had a mean age of 35 (range 22–59), were 89% male, and 88% Caucasian. Mean baseline CD4 cell count was 304 cells/mm3 and mean baseline plasma HIV RNA was 4.8 log10 copies/mL (57,887 copies/mL). The percent of patients with plasma HIV RNA < 50 copies/mL at 52 weeks was 54% for the VIRACEPT + ZDV + 3TC treatment group and 13% for the ZDV + 3TC treatment group.

b. Studies in Antiretroviral Treatment Experienced Patients
Study ACTG 364: VIRACEPT TID + 2NRTIs compared to efavirenz + 2NRTIs compared to VIRACEPT + efavirenz + 2NRTIs

Study ACTG 364 was a randomized, double‑blind study that evaluated the combination of VIRACEPT 750 mg TID and/or efavirenz 600 mg QD with 2 NRTIs (either didanosine [ddI] + d4T, ddI + 3TC, or d4T + 3TC) in patients with prolonged prior nucleoside exposure who had completed 2 previous ACTG studies. Patients had a mean age of 41 years (range 18 to 75), were 88% male, and were 74% Caucasian. Mean baseline CD4 cell count was 389 cells/mm3 and mean baseline plasma HIV RNA was 3.9 log10 copies/mL (7,954 copies/mL).

The percent of patients with plasma HIV RNA < 500 copies/mL at 48 weeks was 42%, 62%, and 72% for the VIRACEPT (n=66), EFV (n=65), and VIRACEPT + EFV (n=64) treatment groups, respectively. The 4-drug combination of VIRACEPT + EFV + 2 NRTIs was more effective in suppressing plasma HIV RNA in these patients than either 3‑drug regimen.


There is currently no drug history available for this drug.

Other Information

VIRACEPT® (nelfinavir mesylate) is an inhibitor of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) protease. VIRACEPT Tablets are available for oral administration as a light blue, capsule-shaped tablet with a clear film coating in 250 mg strength (as nelfinavir free base) and as a white oval tablet with a clear film coating in 625 mg strength (as nelfinavir free base). Each tablet contains the following common inactive ingredients: calcium silicate, crospovidone, magnesium stearate, hypromellose, and triacetin. In addition, the 250 mg tablet contains FD&C blue #2 powder and the 625 mg tablet contains colloidal silicon dioxide. VIRACEPT Oral Powder is available for oral administration in a 50 mg/g strength (as nelfinavir free base) in bottles. The oral powder also contains the following inactive ingredients: microcrystalline cellulose, maltodextrin, dibasic potassium phosphate, crospovidone, hypromellose, aspartame, sucrose palmitate, and natural and artificial flavor. The chemical name for nelfinavir mesylate is [3S-[2(2S*,3S*), 3α,4aβ,8aβ]]-N-(1,1-dimethylethyl)decahydro-2-[2-hydroxy-3-[(3-hydroxy-2-methylbenzoyl)amino]-4-(phenylthio)butyl]-3-isoquinoline carboxamide mono-methanesulfonate (salt) and the molecular weight is 663.90 (567.79 as the free base). Nelfinavir mesylate has the following structural formula:

Chemical Structure

Nelfinavir mesylate is a white to off-white amorphous powder, slightly soluble in water at pH ≤4 and freely soluble in methanol, ethanol, 2-propanol and propylene glycol.

Viracept Manufacturers

  • State Of Florida Doh Central Pharmacy
    Viracept (Nelfinavir Mesylate) Tablet, Film Coated [State Of Florida Doh Central Pharmacy]
  • Pd-rx Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
    Viracept (Nelfinavir Mesylate) Tablet, Film Coated [Pd-rx Pharmaceuticals, Inc.]
  • H.j. Harkins Company, Inc.
    Viracept (Nelfinavir Mesylate) Tablet, Film Coated [H.j. Harkins Company, Inc.]
  • Remedyrepack Inc.
    Viracept (Nelfinavir Mesylate) Tablet, Film Coated [Remedyrepack Inc. ]
  • Agouron
    Viracept (Nelfinavir Mesylate) Tablet, Film Coated Viracept (Nelfinavir Mesylate) Powder [Agouron]

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