AIDS Home > Kaletra

Kaletra is a medicine that is often used with other HIV medications for the treatment of HIV and AIDS. It is a combination drug that contains two different protease inhibitors. Although the medication is not a cure for HIV or AIDS, it can help stop the virus from multiplying. This drug, which is available by prescription, comes in tablet and oral solution form.

What Is Kaletra?

Kaletra® (lopinavir and ritonavir) is a prescription medicine used as a treatment for HIV and AIDS. It contains two separate medications. Ritonavir (one active ingredient) is used to increase the level of lopinavir (the other active ingredient) in the blood, helping to make it more effective. Kaletra is approved for use along with other HIV medications.
(Click Kaletra Uses for more information, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes It?

Kaletra is made by Abbott Laboratories.

How Does It Work?

Both of the medications in Kaletra belong to a group of HIV medications known as protease inhibitors. These medicines work by blocking a process that the HIV virus needs in order to multiply.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS. Like other viruses, it must use a person's own cells to reproduce. Once inside an infected cell, the HIV virus uses the cell to make DNA, which enables it to make new HIV viruses that can spread to other cells. The DNA is made in long strands that must be clipped into shorter, usable strands using enzymes called proteases.
Kaletra is a protease inhibitor, which means that it stops protease enzymes from clipping DNA into short strands. Since the long, unclipped DNA strands cannot be used to make new viruses, this helps stop the spread of HIV to other uninfected cells. Kaletra is not a cure for HIV or AIDS, however. It can help stop HIV from infecting healthy cells in the body, but it does not help cells that have already been infected with the virus.
Even though ritonavir is a protease inhibitor, it is not used for its antiviral activity. Instead, it is used to increase the level of lopinavir in the blood. It does this by slowing down the breakdown of lopinavir in the liver. By increasing the level of lopinavir in the blood, ritonavir helps Kaletra to work better.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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