Viracept (Nelfinavir) Uses, Side Effects and Dosage

Viracept (Nelfinavir) Uses, Side Effects and Dosage

What is Viracept (Nelfinavir)?

Viracept is an oral medication used for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, usually in combination with another treatment or treatment(s) to constitute a multi-drug treatment regime. This drug is suitable for pediatric patients (<13 but >2 years of age). The safety and efficacy of Viracept has not been established in geriatric patients (>65 years), so older patients embarking upon a treatment regime with Viracept should only do so in consultation with a physician. The manufacturer of this product is Agouron.

What is this medication used for?

The brand name Viracept (generic name: nelfinavir) is used for treating HIV-1 infection in adults and children. It is indicated for use in combination with other antiretroviral treatments.

How does Nelfinavir medication work?

HIV relies on an enzyme called a protease, which is necessary for viral replication once HIV has infected human T-cells. The active ingredient in this drug class, nelfinavir, binds to the active site of the HIV protease, preventing the virus from replicating. As a result, there is a production of immature, non-infectious virus.

How to take it

Viracept is taken two to three times daily with a meal. If unable to swallow tablets, it can be dissolved in a small quantity of water. If a dose is skipped, it should not be doubled on the next dose. The tablets and powder are for oral use.

Viracept side effects

In a large clinical trial study consisting of more than 5,000 adult patients, Viracept was found to be well-tolerated. The majority of adverse effects that were reported were of mild intensity.

Common side effects

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Flatulence
  • Rash
  • Low white blood cell count (children)
  • Loss of appetite (children)
  • Abdominal pain (children)

Serious side effects

  • Increased bleeding in people with hemophilia
  • Changes in body fat
  • Hyperglycemia / diabetes
  • Immune Reconstitution Syndrome


Viracept is available as a tablet in two strengths, containing either 250mg or 625mg of nelfinavir mesylate. The tablets are film coated. Viracept is also available in a powder formulation at a strength of 50mg/g of nelfinavir mesylate. The typical starting dose is 1250mg twice daily or 750mg three times daily.

For pediatric patients who are unable to take tablets, the powder form of nelfinavir can be administered. The maximum dose is 2500mg per day for adults. Doses higher than 2500mg per day for adults have not been studied. Children’s dosing is based on their weight and age. Dosing guidelines should be referred to.

Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this article are for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. This article, and other AIDS and HIV Information articles on AIDS Drugs Online, are not written by AIDS Drugs Online or reviewed by its staff for medical validity. All views and opinions expressed by the third-party authors are not endorsed by AIDS Drugs Online or its staff. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice.


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