AIDS Home > Viracept

Viracept is a prescription medication that is licensed for the treatment of HIV and AIDS. It is a type of protease inhibitor that can help stop HIV from multiplying and spreading to uninfected cells in the body. The drug is available in tablet and powder form, and is generally taken two to three times a day. Side effects may include nausea, gas, and diarrhea.

What Is Viracept?

Viracept® (nelfinavir mesylate) is a prescription medicine used as a treatment for HIV and AIDS. It is approved for use only in combination with other HIV or AIDS medications.
(Click Viracept Uses for more information on what the medication is used for, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes It?

Viracept is made by Pfizer, Inc.

How Does Viracept Work?

Viracept belongs to a group of AIDS and HIV medications known as protease inhibitors (PIs). 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, HIV must use a person's own cells to reproduce. Once inside an infected cell, the HIV virus uses the cell to make DNA (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.
Viracept 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.
Viracept is not a cure for HIV or AIDS. It can help stop HIV from infecting uninfected cells in the body, but it does not help cells that have already been infected with the virus.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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