Kaletra (Lopinavir/Ritonavir) and/or alternatives
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General Information On Kaletra
An oral medication, Kaletra is used for controlling the spread of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) cells in a person who is infected with this virus. This drug is used with other medicines to improve the quality of life of a HIV patient. It is necessary to iterate here that Kaletra is not a cure for HIV infection or AIDS.
Kaletra is a combination of two medicines: lopinavir and ritonavir. It belongs to a category of drugs referred to as HIV protease inhibitors.
Side Effects for Kaletra
You must stop using Kaletra and contact your doctor if you notice any of the following side effects: changes in vision, increase in urine discharge, dizziness, abnormally fast heartbeat, fainting, loss of appetite, dark-colored urine, black or tarry stools, yellowing of the eyes or skin, painful penis erection or an erection that lasts for more than four hours, fever, sore throat, severe pain in your upper abdominal area, or an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, itching, rashes, or swelling of face, tongue, throat, or other body parts).
In addition to the above, you may also experience the following less serious side effects: upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, mild fatigue, or mild skin rash.
This is not a complete list of side effects that Kaletra may cause. Go through the patient information leaflet that you receive when you buy Kaletra, as it contains the complete list of side effects.
If you are allergic to ritonavir or lopinavir, you should not take Kaletra. Before using the drug, tell your doctor about your medical history and pre-existing conditions, especially if you suffer from any of the following: pancreatic problems, low potassium levels, high levels of cholesterol, diabetes, liver disease, cardiovascular disease, heart rhythm disorder, or a bleeding disorder.
Do not give this medicine to a child younger than 2 weeks until your doctor states otherwise. Before you start using lopinavir and ritonavir, ask your doctor if you should avoid any foods or other substances during treatment.
Depending on your age and condition, your doctor will prescribe the right dose for you. For adult patients, the recommended dosage is Kaletra 400/100mg daily.
You may take the medicine with or without food. If you are taking the medicine in liquid form, then it is recommended that you take it with food. Your doctor is likely to prescribe other medications along with Kaletra. It is necessary that you take all your medications as directed by your doctor.
You may consider taking Kaletra at same time each day. In this way, you can reduce your chances of missing a dose. In case you forget to take a dose of Kaletra, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. With that said, do not take the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose.
Some drugs may cause serious complications when taken with this drug. If you are taking lopinavir and ritonavir, then you must not use the following medications: lovastatin, alfuzosin, midazolam, triazolam, rifampin, simvastatin, primozide, St. John’s Wort, ergot medicines, and sildenafil.
Other medicines, including over-the-counter and herbal pills, may also interact with Kaletra. Before asking you to buy Kaletra, your doctor will advise you as to what all medications you should not take during the course of treatment.
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What is a "Generic" medication/drug?
Generic drugs are medications that have comparable medicinal ingredients as the original brand name drug, but which are generally cheaper in price. Nearly 1 in 3 drugs dispensed are "generic". They undergo testing to ensure that they are similar to their "brand" counterparts in:
- Active Ingredient (e.g. "Pravastatin" is the active ingredient in brand name Pravachol)
- Dosage (e.g. 10 mg of the active ingredient)
- Safety (e.g. same or similar side effects, drug interactions)
- Performance (e.g. 10 mg of a "generic" can be substituted for 10 mg of the "brand" and have the same therapeutic result)
- Intended use (e.g. both "generic" and "brand" would be prescribed for the same conditions)
What this means is that "generic" medications can be used as a substitute of their brand equivalents with the comparable therapeutic results. There are a few exceptions (examples are outlined at the end of this page) and as always you should consult your physician before switching from a brand name medications to a generic or vice versa.
What differences are there between generic and brand?
While generics and brand equivalent drugs contain the same active ingredients, they may be different in the following ways:
- Appearance (e.g. the scoring or markings)
The color, shape and size of the medication come from the fillers that are added to the active ingredients to make the drug. These fillers that are added to the drug have no medical use and do not to change the effectiveness of the final product. A generic drug must contain comparable active ingredients and must have a comparable strength and dosage as the original brand name equivalent. Generic drugs can be more cost effective than purchasing the brand name.
Why do generics cost less than the brand name equivalents?
When a new drug is "invented", the company that discovered it has a patent on it that gives them the exclusive production rights for this medication. Once the patent expires in a country, other companies can bring the product to market under their own name. This patent prevents other companies from copying the drug during that time so they can earn back their Research and Development costs through being the exclusive supplier of the product. After the patent expires however, other companies can develop a "generic" version of the product. These versions generally are offered at much lower prices because the companies do not have the same development costs as the original company who developed the medication.
The main thing to realize here though is that the two products are therapeutically equivalent. They may look different, and be called something different.
How are Generic drugs tested to ensure quality and efficacy?
Generally speaking, the two most generally accepted methods to prove the safety of a generic version of a drug are to either repeat most of the chemistry, animal and human studies originally done, or to show that the drug performs comparably with the original brand name drug. This second option is called a "comparative bioavailability" study. During this type of study, volunteers are given the original drug, and then separately later the generic drug. The rates at which the drug is delivered to the patient (into their blood stream or otherwise absorbed) are measured to ensure they are the same. Because the same active ingredient is used the major concern is just that it delivers the common chemical(s) at the same rate so that they have the same effect. Please note that the methods that the manufacturers use may vary from country to country.