Viracept Warnings and Precautions

Before taking Viracept, let your healthcare provider know if you have diabetes, phenylketonuria, or any allergies. You should also tell your healthcare provider about all other medications you are taking, as Viracept could interact negatively with other drugs. Other Viracept warnings and precautions include the safety of taking Viracept if you have liver disease and the risk of cancer in some people taking the medicine.

Viracept: What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking Viracept® (nelfinavir mesylate) if you have:
  • Phenylketonuria
  • Liver disease, such as liver failure, cirrhosis, or hepatitis
  • Diabetes
  • Any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:


  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
You should also be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Precautions and Warnings for Viracept

Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking Viracept include the following:
  • The manufacturer of Viracept has sent letters to healthcare providers warning that ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS) has been found in Viracept products. EMS is an impurity caused by the manufacturing process of Viracept and may cause cancer. The risk of cancer due to taking Viracept appears to be low, and for most people, the benefits of Viracept outweigh the possible risks of cancer due to EMS.
  • Viracept powder (but not tablets) contains phenylalanine. This is important for people with phenylketonuria, who must limit their intake of phenylalanine. Each gram of Viracept powder contains 11.2 mg of phenylalanine.
  • Viracept can cause high blood sugar (hyperglycemia). This can cause problems for people with diabetes, or can even cause diabetes in individuals who are predisposed to the condition.
  • The liver helps to clear Viracept from the body. If you have moderate to severe liver disease, you should not take Viracept.
  • There have been reports of bleeding possibly due to protease inhibitors (such as Viracept) in people with hemophilia. Be sure your healthcare provider knows if you have hemophilia.
  • Viracept can change the distribution of fat on your body. You may gain fat in areas that are not typical for you, such as in the abdomen or at the back of the neck (a "buffalo hump"), and may lose weight in other areas.
  • Viracept is not a cure for HIV or AIDS. If you have HIV or AIDS, you should always use safer sex practices, regardless of whether you are taking medications. It is important to note that Viracept may make oral contraceptives (birth control pills) less effective.
  • As will all HIV medications, it is important that you take Viracept exactly as prescribed. Missing doses may increase the chance of the virus becoming resistant to HIV medications.
  • Viracept can interact with a number of different medications (see Viracept Drug Interactions for more information).
  • Viracept is considered a pregnancy Category B medication. This means that it is probably safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks are not known (see Viracept and Pregnancy). However, recent information has shown that Viracept contains ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS), a carcinogen. It is currently recommended that pregnant women avoid taking Viracept, and pregnant women who are already taking Viracept should be switched to a different medication until more information is available.
  • It is not known whether Viracept passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Viracept and Breastfeeding). It is important to understand that the HIV virus can be transmitted through breast milk and that breastfeeding is usually not recommended in women with HIV or AIDS.

Viracept Drug Information

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