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Precautions and Warnings With Ritonavir

Talk to your healthcare provider about precautions and warnings with ritonavir before starting treatment to help ensure that the drug is suitable for you. Ritonavir can increase liver damage in people with liver disease, cause bleeding in people with hemophilia, and increase blood sugar in people with diabetes. Precautions and warning with ritonavir also extend to women who are pregnant or nursing.

Ritonavir: What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking ritonavir (Norvir®) if you have:
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
You should also be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Precautions and Warnings With Ritonavir

Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking ritonavir include the following:
  • The medication can cause life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which can be dangerous. Let your healthcare provider know immediately if you have any signs of pancreatitis, such as:
    • A tender or swollen abdomen
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Fever
    • A rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
    • Rapid breathing.
  • Ritonavir can cause damage to the liver. Make sure to tell your healthcare provider if you already have liver disease or liver damage, as you may be at an increased risk for further liver damage.
  • The medication can cause high blood sugar (hyperglycemia). This can cause problems for people with diabetes, or it can even cause diabetes in individuals who are predisposed to the condition.
  • There have been reports of bleeding possibly due to protease inhibitors (such as ritonavir) in people with hemophilia. Be sure your healthcare provider knows if you have this condition.
  • Ritonavir can increase cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Your healthcare provider should check these levels regularly using a simple blood test.
  • The medication can change the distribution of fat on your body. You may gain fat in areas that are not typical for you, such as in the abdomen or at the back of the neck (a "buffalo hump"), and may lose weight in other areas.
  • Ritonavir is not a cure for HIV or AIDS. If you have HIV or AIDS, you should always use safer sex practices, whether or not you are taking medications.


  • When you first start taking this medication and your immune system begins to recover, a group of problems known as immune reconstitution syndrome may occur. Your immune system may start aggressively reacting to any infections you may have and may cause extreme inflammation. There have even been cases of autoimmune disorders (such as Graves' disease, polymyositis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome) possibly caused by this problem. 


  • As with all HIV medications, it is important that you take ritonavir exactly as prescribed. Missing doses may increase the chance of the virus becoming resistant to HIV medications.
  • Ritonavir can interact with a number of different medications (see Drug Interactions With Ritonavir).
  • Ritonavir is considered a pregnancy Category B medication. This means that it is probably safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks are not known (see Norvir and Pregnancy).
  • It is not known if ritonavir passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Norvir and Breastfeeding). It is important to understand that the HIV virus can be transmitted through breast milk and that breastfeeding is usually not recommended in women with HIV or AIDS.

Ritonavir Tablet Information

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