Ritonavir (By mouth)


Ritonavir (rit-OH-na-vir)

Treats human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. HIV causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Ritonavir does not cure HIV or AIDS, but it may slow the progress of the disease.

Brand Name(s)


When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

How to Use This Medicine

Liquid Filled Capsule, Liquid, Tablet

  • Take your medicine as directed.
  • It is best to take this medicine with food or milk.
  • Swallow the tablet whole. Do not break, crush, or chew it.
  • Shake the oral liquid well before each use. Measure the medicine with a marked measuring spoon or medicine cup. You can mix the oral liquid with chocolate milk or nutritional drinks (such as Advera® or Ensure®) to make it taste better. You should drink this medicine within 1 hour of mixing.
  • Take all other medicines your doctor has prescribed as part of your combination treatment. Do not change your dose or stop using your medicine unless your doctor tells you to.
  • This medicine works best if there is a constant amount in the blood. Take this medicine at the same time each day and do not miss any doses. Contact your doctor or pharmacist when your supply of this medicine is running low. Do not let your medicine run out.
  • If you also use didanosine (Videx®), take it at least 2 hours and 30 minutes before or after you take ritonavir.
  • Read and follow the patient instructions that come with this medicine. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

If a dose is missed:

  • Take a dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then and take a regular dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine

  • Store the capsules in the refrigerator or at room temperature in a closed container. If stored at room temperature, use the medicine within 30 days. Keep away from heat and direct light.
  • Store the liquid or tablets in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat and direct light. Do not refrigerate.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • You must avoid many other medicines while you use ritonavir. Ritonavir and these medicines could cause serious health problems if you use them together. Make sure your doctor knows if you use budesonide (Pulmicort®), fluticasone (such as Advair®, Flonase®), rifabutin (Mycobutin®), rifampin (Rifadin®, Rifamate®, Rifater®, Rimactane®), salmeterol (Serevent®), medicine to treat impotence (such as avanafil, sildenafil, tadalafil, vardenafil, Adcirca?, Cialis®, Levitra®, Stendra?, Viagra®), or medicine to lower cholesterol (such as atorvastatin, rosuvastatin, Crestor®, Lipitor®). Tell your doctor if you also use other medicines to treat HIV or AIDS (such as atazanavir, darunavir, delavirdine, didanosine, fosamprenavir, indinavir, maraviroc, raltegravir, saquinavir, tipranavir, Crixivan®, Isentress®, Lexiva®, Prezista®, Rescriptor®, Reyataz®, Videx®), a narcotic pain medicine (such as fentanyl, tramadol, propoxyphene, meperidine, methadone, Actiq®, Darvon®, Duragesic®, Sublimaze®, Ultram®), blood pressure medicines (such as amlodipine, diltiazem, metoprolol, nifedipine, propranolol, timolol, verapamil, Adalat®, Bystolic®, Cardizem®, Caduet®, Lotrel®, Tenormin®, Verelan®), medicine for heart rhythm problems (such as digoxin, disopyramide, lidocaine, mexiletine, Lanoxin®, Mexitil®, Norpace®), or a blood thinner (such as rivaroxaban, warfarin, Coumadin®, Jantoven®).
  • Tell your doctor if you also use atovaquone (Mepron®), bosentan (Tracleer®), colchicine (Colcrys®), quinine (Qualaquin®), medicine to treat seizures (such as carbamazepine, clonazepam, divalproex, ethosuximide, lamotrigine, phenytoin, Dilantin®, Klonopin®, Tegretol®), medicine for depression (such as amitriptyline, bupropion, desipramine, fluoxetine, nefazodone, nortriptyline, paroxetine, trazodone, Elavil®, Pamelor®, Paxil®, Prozac®, Serzone®), medicine to treat vomiting (such as dronabinol, Marinol®), or medicine for infection (such as clarithromycin, itraconazole, ketoconazole, voriconazole, Nizoral®).
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you also use midazolam injection (Versed®), birth control pills (such as ethinyl estradiol), asthma medicine (such as theophylline, Theo-24®, Uniphyl®), cancer medicine (such as dasatinib, nilotinib, vinblastine, vincristine, Oncovin®, Sprycel®, Tasigna®), medicine that weakens the immune system (such as cyclosporine, sirolimus, tacrolimus, Gengraf®, Neoral®, Prograf®, Rapamune®, Sandimmune®), medicine for mental illness (such as perphenazine, risperidone, thioridazine, Risperdal®), medicine for sleep (such as buspirone, clorazepate, diazepam, estazolam, flurazepam, zolpidem, Valium®), a steroid medicine (such as dexamethasone, prednisone), or a stimulant (such as methamphetamine, Desoxyn®).
  • The liquid form of this medicine contains alcohol. Tell your doctor if you use or plan to use disulfiram (Antabuse®) or metronidazole (Flagyl®).

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or if you have kidney disease, liver disease (including hepatitis B or C), diabetes, heart disease, heart rhythm problems (such as PR prolongation), high triglycerides in the blood, high cholesterol, pancreas problems, or hemophilia.
  • Do not breastfeed. You can spread HIV or AIDS to your baby through your breast milk.
  • This medicine will not keep you from giving HIV to others. Always practice safe sex, even if your partner also has HIV. Do not share needles or other items that may have blood or body fluids on them.
  • Check with your doctor right away if you have stomach pain, pale stools, dark urine, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or yellow eyes or skin. These may be symptoms of liver problems.
  • Pancreatitis may occur while you use this medicine. Check with your doctor right away if you have sudden and severe stomach pain, chills, constipation, nausea, vomiting, fever, or lightheadedness.
  • Your immune system may get stronger when you start taking HIV medicines. Tell your doctor right away if you notice any changes in your health. Sometimes the immune system will start to fight infections that were hidden in your body, such as pneumonia, herpes, or tuberculosis. Autoimmune disorders such as Graves disease, polymyositis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome may also occur.
  • Birth control pills may not work while you are using ritonavir. Use another form of birth control to avoid getting pregnant.
  • This medicine may cause changes to your body fat. Tell your doctor if you notice changes in your body shape, such as more fat in the upper back and neck or around the chest and stomach area. You might also lose fat from the legs, arms, and face.
  • Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Blistering, peeling, or red skin rash
  • Change in how much or how often you urinate, painful urination
  • Chest pain, fast, slow, or uneven heartbeat
  • Dark-colored urine or pale stools, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, pain in your upper stomach, yellow skin or eyes
  • Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches
  • Increased hunger or thirst
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
  • Swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising, tiredness, or weakness

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Diarrhea, stomach pain, upset stomach
  • Headache
  • Mild skin rash or itching
  • Unusual or bad taste in your mouth
  • Weight gain around your neck, upper back, breast, or waist

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 8/4/2014

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