Lopinavir is a protease inhibitor used to treat HIV/AIDS infection. Lopinavir is often used in combination with ritonavir, a drug that helps increase lopinavir's effectiveness. Lopinavir helps treat HIV and AIDS by preventing the virus from taking up the protein protease. Without protease, HIV normally cannot replicate itself. Treatment with lopinavir can help control HIV infection, and prevent the occurrence of dangerous opportunistic infections in people with HIV or AIDS.
The protease inhibitor lopinavir was developed by Abbott Laboratories in Illinois, United States, and approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2000. Lopinavir is not considered capable of curing HIV/AIDS infection, nor does it generally stop HIV/AIDS patients from passing on the disease through sexual or blood contact. It can, however, improve patients' quality of life, and lengthen patients' lives.
This drug can be used by both adults and children diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, though it is considered unsafe for use in children younger than 14 days old. Adults and children may receive dosages of lopinavir twice a day, whether or not they have previously used protease inhibitor drugs. The first of the two daily doses is generally about 400 milligrams (mg), while the second of the two daily doses is usually about 100mg. Some patients may be able to take only one daily dose of lopinavir, though that one dose is typically twice as large.
Side effects of lopinavir can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and upset stomach. Dizziness, drowsiness, insomnia, and an unpleasant taste in the mouth can also occur as side effects of lopinavir usage. Use of this drug sometimes causes patients to experience changes in body fat distribution, and can cause a rise in blood cholesterol levels.
Lopinavir and ritonavir are often prescribed in combination with other protease inhibitor drugs, including nevirapine, efavirenz, fosamprenavir, and nelfinavir. Lopinavir can cause drug interactions when combined with some medications, including ergot-based drugs, rifampin, and the herbal supplement St. John's wort. Using lopinavir in combination with some medications can cause life-threatening reactions. Patients are generally encouraged to disclose all prescription and non-prescription drug use to their doctors before beginning lopinavir use.
Doctors do not yet know how what effect lopinavir can have on an unborn baby. HIV-positive mothers can pass on the virus to their unborn babies if they do not continue using protease inhibitors during pregnancy. Most doctors encourage pregnant women with HIV to continue taking all of their medications throughout pregnancy to prevent spreading the virus to the unborn child.