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Protease Inhibitors (PIs)

for Veterans and the Public

Protease Inhibitors (PIs)

The third group of drugs is the protease (pronounced "pro-tee-ase") inhibitors (PIs).

Once HIV has infected a cell and made copies of itself, it uses an enzyme called protease to process itself correctly so it can be released from the cell to infect other cells. These medicines work by blocking protease.

Nine PIs are available:

  • Aptivus® (tipranavir)
  • Crixivan® (indinavir)
  • Invirase® (saquinavir)
  • Kaletra® (lopinavir + ritonavir combined in one tablet)
  • Lexiva® (fosamprenavir)
  • Norvir® (ritonavir)
  • Prezista®(darunavir)
  • Reyataz® (atazanavir)
  • Viracept® (nelfinavir)

Many PIs are recommended or approved for use only with another drug that "boosts" their effect. One of these is low-dose Norvir®, the other is a non-HIV drug called Tybost® (cobicistat).

Several combination tablets that include a "booster" plus a PI are:

  • Evotaz® (Reyataz® + Tybost®)
  • Prezcobix® (Prezista® + Tybost®)
  • Kaletra® (lopinavir + Norvir®)