Meds and you

27 September 2013


Nevirapine is an antiretroviral. Antiretrovirals are drugs that suppress the activity or replication of retroviruses such as HIV.


(Also known as NVP)

Nevirapine is the active ingredient of Viramune Tablets (Nappi Code: 840645-007), Viramune Suspension (Nappi Code: 861855-019), Adco-Nevirapine tablets (Nappi Code: 707961-001), Aspen Nevirapine tablets (Nappi Code: 703718-001), Cipla Nevirapine tablets (Nappi Code: 704036-001) and Cipla Nevirapine Suspension (Nappi Code: 704040-001).

General information
Nevirapine is an antiretroviral. Antiretrovirals are drugs that suppress the activity or replication of retroviruses such as HIV. This specific antiviral is classified as a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, meaning that it directly inhibits an enzyme which is essential for the virus to multiply.

In South Africa nevirapine is registered for the treatment of infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), often in combination with two other antiretroviral drugs. It is also commonly used to prevent mother-to-child transfer of the virus shortly before, during, and immediately after birth.

If not treated, HIV will advance to weaken the body's immune system, gradually chipping away to create grounds for other infections, which the body will find more and more difficult to protect itself against. HIV develops into acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) when your immune system has been severely weakened.

For nevirapine to be effective it has to be taken regularly. By skipping even a few doses the risk for treatment failure increases substantially. Try to ensure that you take all your doses, and at the correct time.

It should be understood that nevirapine is not a cure for HIV or AIDS, but is one of a variety of drugs that only restricts the advance of the virus, keeping the immune system up-and-running. It is used in combination with other antiretroviral drugs and should not be prescribed on its own.

Nevirapine does not reduce transmission of HIV; you can still infect another person with the virus and the use of appropriate precautions to prevent spread to other persons is highly recommended.

How does nevirapine work?
When HIV infects a human T cell, a type of white blood cell that plays a key role in the functioning of the immune system, viral genetic information in the form of RNA needs to be converted to DNA for the virus to be able to multiply. It makes use of an enzyme called reverse transcriptase to achieve this conversion. This drug, a reverse transcriptase inhibitor, binds directly to this enzyme and prevents the conversion of RNA to DNA thereby preventing the spread of HIV.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 4
Available as: nevirapine is available as tablets and suspension.
What does it do? Nevirapine is an anti-viral drug.
Overdose risk: medium
Dependence risk: low
Is nevirapine available as a generic? yes
Is nevirapine available on prescription only? yes

User information

Dietary advice: nevirapine may be taken with or without food.
Stopping this medicine: do not stop taking this drug without consulting your doctor.
Prolonged use: side-effects may develop with long-term use; frequent blood tests may be required with prolonged therapy to determine liver function.

Special precautions
Consult your doctor before using this drug if:


  • you have known liver or kidney problems

  • you are taking other medication

Pregnancy: avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant
Breastfeeding: avoid. Not only can HIV infection be passed to your baby through breast milk, but nevirapine is also present and is transmitted in breast milk.
Porphyria: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your condition. Consult your doctor before use.
The elderly: caution is advised in the elderly as side effects may be more severe.
Infants and children: use should be monitored by a doctor.
Driving and hazardous work: no special precautions need to be taken.
Alcohol: avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication.

Possible side effects


Side Effect
Consult your doctor
Only if severe
In all cases
abdominal pain
skin rash
muscle/joint pain
mouth ulcers
numbness, tingling, burning or pain in the hands or feet
yellow tinge to eyes/skin


b>Drug interactions


oral contraceptives risk of reduced contraceptive effect
St. Johns wort, rifampicin reduced effect of nevirapine
amprenavir, indinavir, lopinavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir reduced effect of these agents

Many other drugs may interact with nevirapine. It is important to consult your doctor or pharmacist before combining any drug with nevirapine.

Disease interactions
Contact your doctor if you have a liver or kidney disease.

Overdose action
A small overdose is no cause for concern. In case of intentional large overdose seek emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage
Adults: oral, 200-400 mg/day


This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.

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