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Norvir (Ritonavir) - Warnings and Precautions



Co-administration of NORVIR with several classes of drugs including sedative hypnotics, antiarrhythmics, or ergot alkaloid preparations may result in potentially serious and/or life-threatening adverse events due to possible effects of NORVIR on the hepatic metabolism of certain drugs. Review medications taken by patients prior to prescribing NORVIR or when prescribing other medications to patients already taking NORVIR [see Contraindications (4) , Warnings and Precautions , Drug Interactions (7) , and Clinical Pharmacology ].



When co-administering NORVIR with other protease inhibitors, see the full prescribing information for that protease inhibitor including Warnings and Precautions.

Drug Interactions

NORVIR is a CYP3A inhibitor. Initiating treatment with NORVIR in patients receiving medications metabolized by CYP3A or initiating medications metabolized by CYP3A in patients already maintained on NORVIR may result in increased plasma concentrations of concomitant medications. Higher plasma concentrations of concomitant medications can result in increased or prolonged therapeutic or adverse effects, potentially leading to severe, life-threatening or fatal events. The potential for drug-drug interactions must be considered prior to and during therapy with NORVIR. Review of other medications taken by patients and monitoring of patients for adverse effects is recommended during therapy with NORVIR.

See Table 1 for a listing of drugs that are contraindicated with NORVIR due to potentially life-threatening adverse events, significant drug interactions, or loss of virologic activity. Also, see Table 4 for a listing of drugs with established and other significant drug interactions [see Contraindications (4), Drug Interactions (7) , and Clinical Pharmacology ].

Hepatic Reactions

Hepatic transaminase elevations exceeding 5 times the upper limit of normal, clinical hepatitis, and jaundice have occurred in patients receiving NORVIR alone or in combination with other antiretroviral drugs (see Table 3). There may be an increased risk for transaminase elevations in patients with underlying hepatitis B or C. Therefore, caution should be exercised when administering NORVIR to patients with pre-existing liver diseases, liver enzyme abnormalities, or hepatitis. Increased AST/ALT monitoring should be considered in these patients, especially during the first three months of NORVIR treatment [see Use In Specific Populations ].

There have been postmarketing reports of hepatic dysfunction, including some fatalities. These have generally occurred in patients taking multiple concomitant medications and/or with advanced AIDS.


Pancreatitis has been observed in patients receiving NORVIR therapy, including those who developed hypertriglyceridemia. In some cases fatalities have been observed. Patients with advanced HIV-1 disease may be at increased risk of elevated triglycerides and pancreatitis [see Warnings and Precautions ]. Pancreatitis should be considered if clinical symptoms (nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain) or abnormalities in laboratory values (such as increased serum lipase or amylase values) suggestive of pancreatitis should occur. Patients who exhibit these signs or symptoms should be evaluated and NORVIR therapy should be discontinued if a diagnosis of pancreatitis is made.

Allergic Reactions/Hypersensitivity

Allergic reactions including urticaria, mild skin eruptions, bronchospasm, and angioedema have been reported. Cases of anaphylaxis, toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), and Stevens-Johnson syndrome have also been reported. Discontinue treatment if severe reactions develop.

PR Interval Prolongation

Ritonavir prolongs the PR interval in some patients. Post marketing cases of second or third degree atrioventricular block have been reported in patients.

NORVIR should be used with caution in patients with underlying structural heart disease, preexisting conduction system abnormalities, ischemic heart disease, cardiomyopathies, as these patients may be at increased risk for developing cardiac conduction abnormalities.

The impact on the PR interval of co-administration of ritonavir with other drugs that prolong the PR interval (including calcium channel blockers, beta-adrenergic blockers, digoxin and atazanavir) has not been evaluated. As a result, co-administration of ritonavir with these drugs should be undertaken with caution, particularly with those drugs metabolized by CYP3A. Clinical monitoring is recommended [see Drug Interactions (7) , and Clinical Pharmacology ].

Lipid Disorders

Treatment with NORVIR therapy alone or in combination with saquinavir has resulted in substantial increases in the concentration of total cholesterol and triglycerides [see Adverse Reactions ]. Triglyceride and cholesterol testing should be performed prior to initiating NORVIR therapy and at periodic intervals during therapy. Lipid disorders should be managed as clinically appropriate, taking into account any potential drug-drug interactions with NORVIR and HMG CoA reductase inhibitors [see Contraindications (4) , and Drug Interactions (7) ].

Diabetes Mellitus/Hyperglycemia

New onset diabetes mellitus, exacerbation of pre-existing diabetes mellitus, and hyperglycemia have been reported during postmarketing surveillance in HIV-1 infected patients receiving protease inhibitor therapy. Some patients required either initiation or dose adjustments of insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents for treatment of these events. In some cases, diabetic ketoacidosis has occurred. In those patients who discontinued protease inhibitor therapy, hyperglycemia persisted in some cases. Because these events have been reported voluntarily during clinical practice, estimates of frequency cannot be made and a causal relationship between protease inhibitor therapy and these events has not been established.

Immune Reconstitution Syndrome

Immune reconstitution syndrome has been reported in HIV-1 infected patients treated with combination antiretroviral therapy, including NORVIR. During the initial phase of combination antiretroviral treatment, patients whose immune system responds may develop an inflammatory response to indolent or residual opportunistic infections (such as Mycobacterium avium infection, cytomegalovirus, Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (PCP), or tuberculosis), which may necessitate further evaluation and treatment.

Autoimmune disorders (such as Graves’ disease, polymyositis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome) have also been reported to occur in the setting of immune reconstitution, however, the time to onset is more variable, and can occur many months after initiation of treatment.

Fat Redistribution

Redistribution/accumulation of body fat including central obesity, dorsocervical fat enlargement (buffalo hump), peripheral wasting, facial wasting, breast enlargement, and "cushingoid appearance" have been observed in patients receiving antiretroviral therapy. The mechanism and long-term consequences of these events are currently unknown. A causal relationship has not been established.

Patients with Hemophilia

There have been reports of increased bleeding, including spontaneous skin hematomas and hemarthrosis, in patients with hemophilia type A and B treated with protease inhibitors. In some patients additional factor VIII was given. In more than half of the reported cases, treatment with protease inhibitors was continued or reintroduced. A causal relationship between protease inhibitor therapy and these events has not been established.


Varying degrees of cross-resistance among protease inhibitors have been observed. Continued administration of ritonavir 600 mg twice daily following loss of viral suppression may increase the likelihood of cross-resistance to other protease inhibitors [see Microbiology ].

Laboratory Tests

Ritonavir has been shown to increase triglycerides, cholesterol, SGOT (AST), SGPT (ALT), GGT, CPK, and uric acid. Appropriate laboratory testing should be performed prior to initiating NORVIR therapy and at periodic intervals or if any clinical signs or symptoms occur during therapy.


When co-administering NORVIR with other protease inhibitors, see the full prescribing information for the co-administered protease inhibitor including important information for use in special populations.


Pregnancy Category B

Antiretroviral Pregnancy Registry: To monitor maternal-fetal outcomes of pregnant women exposed to NORVIR, an Antiretroviral Pregnancy Registry has been established. Physicians are encouraged to register patients by calling 1-800-258-4263.

Human Data

There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. NORVIR should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Antiretroviral Pregnancy Registry:

As of January 2012, the Antiretroviral Pregnancy Registry (APR) has received prospective reports of 3860 exposures to ritonavir containing regimens (1567 exposed in the first trimester and 2293 exposed in the second and third trimester). Birth defects occurred in 35 of the 1567 (2.2%) live births (first trimester exposure) and 59 of the 2293 (2.6%) live births (second/third trimester exposure).

Among pregnant women in the U.S. reference population, the background rate of birth defects is 2.7%. There was no association between ritonavir and overall birth defects observed in the APR.

Animal Data

No treatment related malformations were observed when ritonavir was administered to pregnant rats or rabbits. Developmental toxicity observed in rats (early resorptions, decreased fetal body weight and ossification delays and developmental variations) occurred at a maternally toxic dosage at an exposure equivalent to approximately 30% of that achieved with the proposed therapeutic dose. A slight increase in the incidence of cryptorchidism was also noted in rats at an exposure approximately 22% of that achieved with the proposed therapeutic dose.

Developmental toxicity observed in rabbits (resorptions, decreased litter size and decreased fetal weights) also occurred at a maternally toxic dosage equivalent to 1.8 times the proposed therapeutic dose based on a body surface area conversion factor.

Nursing Mothers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that HIV-infected mothers not breastfeed their infants to avoid risking postnatal transmission of HIV. It is not known whether ritonavir is secreted in human milk. Because of both the potential for HIV transmission and the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants, mothers should be instructed not to breastfeed if they are receiving NORVIR.

Pediatric Use

In HIV-1 infected patients age greater than 1 month to 21 years, the antiviral activity and adverse event profile seen during clinical trials and through postmarketing experience were similar to that for adult patients.

Geriatric Use

Clinical studies of NORVIR did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.

Hepatic Impairment

No dose adjustment of ritonavir is necessary for patients with either mild (Child-Pugh Class A) or moderate (Child-Pugh Class B) hepatic impairment. No pharmacokinetic or safety data are available regarding the use of ritonavir in subjects with severe hepatic impairment (Child-Pugh Class C), therefore, ritonavir is not recommended for use in patients with severe hepatic impairment [see Warnings and Precautions , and Clinical Pharmacology ].

Page last updated: 2013-11-19

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