Nevirapine

Nevirapine treats human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Can cause a rash. Patients will be monitored for 18 weeks when starting Nevirapine

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Nevirapine Overview

Reviewed: August 20, 2012
Updated: 

Nevirapine is a prescription medication used in combination with other medicines to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Nevirapine is a type of anti-HIV medicine called a "non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor" (NNRTI). Nevirapine works by lowering the amount of HIV in your blood ("viral load").

This medication comes in tablet and extended-release tablet (Viramune XR) forms as well as a suspension. Nevirapine regular release tablets and suspension is taken once daily for 14 days, and if no rash develops you will take it twice daily thereafter. The extended-release tablets are taken once a day.

The most common nevirapine side effect is rash.

Patient Ratings for Nevirapine

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  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
  • Hiv Infections

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Nevirapine Cautionary Labels

precautionsprecautionsprecautionsprecautionsprecautionsprecautions

Uses of Nevirapine

Nevirapine is a prescription medicine used to treat Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Nevirapine Brand Names

Nevirapine may be found in some form under the following brand names:

Nevirapine Drug Class

Nevirapine is part of the drug class:

Side Effects of Nevirapine

Nevirapine may cause serious side effects, including:

  • See "Nevirapine Precautions".
  • Changes in your immune system (Immune Reconstitution Syndrome) can happen when you start taking HIV medicines. Your immune system may get stronger and begin to fight infections that have been hidden in your body for a long time. Tell your doctor if you start having new symptoms after starting your HIV medicine.
  • Changes in body fat can happen in some people who take antiretroviral therapy. These changes may include increased amount of fat in the upper back and neck ("buffalo hump"), breast, and around the middle of your body (trunk). Loss of fat from your legs, arms, and face can also happen. The cause and long-term health effects of these problems are not known at this time.

The most common side effect of nevirapine is rash. 

Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away. These are not all the possible side effects of nevirapine. For more information, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Nevirapine Interactions

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins and herbal supplements. Nevirapine may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect how nevirapine works.

You should not take nevirapine if you also take:

  • St. John's Wort.  St. John's Wort can lower the amount of nevirapine in your body.
  • efavirenz (Sustiva, Atripla).  Efavirenz may cause you to have an increased chance of side effects.
  • atazanavir (Reyataz)
  • boceprevir (Victrelis)
  • telaprevir (Incivek)
  • lopinavir and ritonavir (Kaletra)
  • fosamprenavir calcium (Lexiva)
  • itraconazole (Sporanox)
  • ketoconazole (Nizoral)
  • rifampin (Rifadin, Rifamate, Rifater)
  • Birth control pills. Birth control pills taken by mouth (oral contraceptives) and other hormone types of birth control may not work to prevent pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about other types of birth control that you can use to prevent pregnancy during treatment with nevirapine.

Also tell your doctor if you take:

If you are not sure if you take a medicine above, ask your doctor or pharmacist.Know the medicines you take. Keep a list of them to show your doctor or pharmacist when you get a new medicine.

Nevirapine Precautions

Nevirapine can cause serious side effects. These include severe liver and skin problems that can cause death. These problems can happen at any time during treatment, but your risk is highest during the first 18 weeks of treatment.

  • Women with CD4+ counts higher than 250 cells/mm3. This group has the highest risk.
  • Men with CD4+ counts higher than 400 cells/mm3.

1.  Severe liver problems: Anyone who takes nevirapine may get severe liver problems. In some cases these liver problems can lead to liver failure and the need for a liver transplant, or death. People who have a higher CD4+ cell count when they begin nevirapine treatment have a higher risk of liver problems, especially:

If you are a woman with CD4+ counts higher than 250 cells/mm3 or a man with CD4+ counts higher than 400 cells/mm3, you and your doctor will decide whether starting nevirapine is right for you.
In general, women have a higher risk of liver problems compared to men.
People who have abnormal liver test results before starting nevirapine treatment and people with hepatitis B or C also have a greater chance of getting liver problems.
You may get a rash if you have liver problems.
Stop taking nevirapine and call your doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms of liver problems:
  • dark (tea colored) urine
  • yellowing of your skin or whites of your eyes
  • light-colored bowel movements (stools)
  • fever
  • feel unwell or like you have the flu
  • nausea (feeling sick to your stomach)
  • pain or tenderness on your right side below your ribs
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite
Your doctor should see you and do blood tests often to check your liver function during the first 18 weeks of treatment with nevirapine. You should continue to have your liver checked regularly during your treatment with nevirapine. It is important for you to keep all of your doctor appointments.
2.  Severe rash and skin reactions: Skin rash is the most common side effect of nevirapine. Most rashes happen in the first 6 weeks of taking nevirapine. Rashes and skin reactions may be severe, life-threatening, and in some people, may lead to death. Stop using nevirapine and call your doctor right away if you get a rash with any of the following symptoms:
  • blisters
  • mouth sores
  • red or inflamed eyes, like "pink eye" (conjunctivitis)
  • liver problems (see symptoms of liver problems above)
  • swelling of your face
  • feel unwell or like you have the flu
  • fever
  • tiredness
  • muscle or joint aches
If your doctor tells you to stop treatment with nevirapine because you have had any of the serious liver or skin problems described above, you should never take nevirapine again.
Tell your doctor if you have or have had liver problems. Your doctor may tell you not to take nevirapine if you have certain liver problems. Nevirapine is only for people diagnosed with HIV. If you have not been diagnosed as HIV positive, then do not take nevirapine.

Nevirapine Food Interactions

Medicines can interact with certain foods. In some cases, this may be harmful and your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods. In the case of nevirapine there are no specific foods that you must exclude from your diet.

Inform MD

Before you take nevirapine, tell your doctor if you:

  • have or have had hepatitis (inflammation of your liver) or problems with your liver. 
  • receive dialysis
  • have skin problems, such as a rash
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if nevirapine will harm your unborn baby.
    Pregnancy Registry: There is a pregnancy registry for women who take antiviral medicines during pregnancy. The purpose of the registry is to collect information about the health of you and your baby. Talk to your doctor about how you can take part in this registry.
  • are breast-feeding or plan to breast-feed. Nevirapine can pass into your breast milk and may harm your baby. It is also recommended that HIV-positive women should not breast-feed their babies. Do not breast-feed during treatment with nevirapine. Talk to your doctor about the best way to feed your baby.

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins and herbal supplements. 

Nevirapine and Pregnancy

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

The FDA categorizes medications based on safety for use during pregnancy. Five categories - A, B, C, D, and X, are used to classify the possible risks to an unborn baby when a medication is taken during pregnancy.

This medication falls into category B.  It is not known if nevirapine will harm your unborn baby.

Pregnancy Registry: There is a pregnancy registry for women who take antiviral medicines during pregnancy. The purpose of the registry is to collect information about the health of you and your baby. Talk to your doctor about how you can take part in this registry.

Nevirapine and Lactation

Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Nevirapine can pass into your breast milk and may harm your baby. It is also recommended that HIV-positive women should not breastfeed their babies. Do not breast-feed during treatment with nevirapine. Talk to your doctor about the best way to feed your baby.

Nevirapine Usage

Nevirapine is always taken in combination with other anti-HIV medications.

  • Take nevirapine exactly as your doctor tells you to take it. Do not change your dose unless your doctor tells you to.
  • You should never take more than one form of nevirapine at the same time. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions.
  • Do not crush or chew extended-release tablets.
  • You may take nevirapine with or without food.
  • Do not miss a dose of nevirapine, because this could make HIV harder to treat. If you miss a dose of nevirapine, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, do not take the missed dose, just take the next dose at your regular time. Do not take two doses at the same time.
  • If you stop taking nevirapine for more than 7 days, ask your doctor how much to take before you start taking it again. You may need to begin taking the nevirapine starting dose again, which is taken 1 time each day for 14 days.

Starting nevirapine tablets:

  • Your doctor should start you with 1 dose each day to lower your chance of getting a serious rash. It is important that you only take 1 dose of nevirapine each day for the first 14 days.
  • Call your doctor right away if you get a skin rash during the first 14 days of nevirapine treatment and do not increase your dose to 2 times a day.
  • You should never take your starting dose for longer than 28 days. If after 28 days you are still receiving this starting dose because you have a rash, you and your doctor should talk about prescribing another HIV medicine for you instead of nevirapine.
  • Do not increase your dose to 2 times a day if you have a rash.
  • Day 15, you will take 1 nevirapine tablet two times a day. 

​Switching from nevirapine tablets to nevirapine XR extended-release tablets:

  • Your doctor should start you with 1 dose of nevirapine tablets each day to lower your chance of getting a serious rash. It is important that you only take 1 dose of nevirapine each day for the first 14 days.
  • Call your doctor right away if you get a skin rash during the first 14 days of nevirapine treatment and do not increase your dose to 2 times a day.
  • You should never take your starting dose for longer than 28 days. If after 28 days you are still receiving this starting dose because you have a rash, you and your doctor should talk about prescribing another HIV medicine for you instead of nevirapine.
  • Do not start extended-release tablets if you have a rash
  • Day 15, you will take 1 extended-release tablet each day.
  • Take nevirapine extended-release tablet 1 time a day.

If you or your child takes nevirapine suspension (liquid), shake it gently before each use. Use an oral dosing syringe or dosing cup to measure the right dose. The oral dosing syringe and dosing cup are not provided with nevirapine suspension. Ask your pharmacist for a syringe or cup if you do not have one.

  • After drinking the medicine, fill the dosing cup with water and drink it to make sure you get all the medicine.
  • If the dose is less than 1 teaspoon (5 mL), use the syringe instead of the dosing cup.

Nevirapine Dosage

Take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully.

The dose your doctor recommends may be based on the following:

  • the condition being treated
  • other medical conditions you have
  • other medications you are taking
  • how you respond to this medication
  • your weight
  • your height
  • your age
  • your gender

The recommended dose for nevirapine is one 200 mg tablet daily for the first 14 days, followed by one 200 mg tablet twice daily, in combination with other antiretroviral agents.

Nevirapine extended release tablets (400 mg once daily) is also available for use. You must never take more than one form of nevirapine at the same time.

The recommended oral dose for children 15 days of age and older is 150 mg/m2 once daily for 14 days followed by 150 mg/m2 twice daily thereafter. The total daily dose should not exceed 400 mg for any patient. 

Nevirapine Overdose

If you take too much nevirapine, call your local Poison Control Center or seek emergency medical attention right away.

Other Requirements

  • Store nevirapine at 59°F to 86°F (15°C to 30°C).
  • Throw away nevirapine that is no longer needed or out-of-date.
  • Keep nevirapine and all medicines out of the reach of children.

Nevirapine FDA Warning

WARNING: LIFE-THREATENING (INCLUDING FATAL) HEPATOTOXICITY and SKIN REACTIONS

HEPATOTOXICITY:

Severe, life-threatening, and in some cases fatal hepatotoxicity, particularly in the first 18 weeks, has been reported in patients treated with nevirapine. In some cases, patients presented with non-specific prodromal signs or symptoms of hepatitis and progressed to hepatic failure. These events are often associated with rash. Female gender and higher CD4+ cell counts at initiation of therapy place patients at increased risk; women with CD4+ cell counts greater than 250 cells/mm3, including pregnant women receiving nevirapine in combination with other antiretrovirals for the treatment of HIV-1 infection, are at the greatest risk. However, hepatotoxicity associated with nevirapine use can occur in both genders, all CD4+ cell counts and at any time during treatment. Hepatic failure has also been reported in patients without HIV taking nevirapine for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Use of nevirapine for occupational and non-occupational PEP is contraindicated. Patients with signs or symptoms of hepatitis, or with increased transaminases combined with rash or other systemic symptoms, must discontinue nevirapine and seek medical evaluation immediately.

SKIN REACTIONS:

Severe, life-threatening skin reactions, including fatal cases, have occurred in patients treated with nevirapine. These have included cases of Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, and hypersensitivity reactions characterized by rash, constitutional findings, and organ dysfunction. Patients developing signs or symptoms of severe skin reactions or hypersensitivity reactions must discontinue nevirapine and seek medical evaluation immediately. Transaminase levels should be checked immediately for all patients who develop a rash in the first 18 weeks of treatment. The 14-day lead-in period with nevirapine 200 mg daily dosing has been observed to decrease the incidence of rash and must be followed.

MONITORING:

Patients must be monitored intensively during the first 18 weeks of therapy with nevirapine to detect potentially life-threatening hepatotoxicity or skin reactions. Extra vigilance is warranted during the first 6 weeks of therapy, which is the period of greatest risk of these events. Do not restart nevirapine following clinical hepatitis, or transaminase elevations combined with rash or other systemic symptoms, or following severe skin rash or hypersensitivity reactions. In some cases, hepatic injury has progressed despite discontinuation of treatment.