Are you a Health Professional? Jump over to the doctors only platform. Click Here


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Generic Name: indinavir sulfate
Product Name: Crixivan

Indication: What Crixivan is used for

Crixivan, a protease inhibitor, is used to help treat HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection. It should be used in combination with other appropriate medicines used to treat HIV. If combination therapy is not possible it may be used alone.

Crixivan is not recommended in children under the age of 18 years.

You may continue to develop infections or other illnesses associated with HIV disease while you are taking Crixivan.

Action: How Crixivan works

Crixivan belongs to a group of medicines called HIV protease inhibitors. It works in a different way to the other medicines used to treat HIV. Crixivan works by interrupting the formation of new HIV particles in already infected cells. When HIV is attacked by Crixivan, the virus is not able to reproduce normally. This helps reduce the amount of virus in the body and helps protect new cells from infection. Crixivan helps reduce the amount of virus in the body and thus increases the CD4 count.

Crixivan contains the active ingredient indinavir sulfate.

It also contains the inactive ingredients lactose, magnesium stearate, gelatin, titanium dioxide, silicon dioxide, sodium lauryl sulfate, TekPrint SB 4020 Green Ink (400 mg capsules only), and TekPrint SB 6018 Blue Ink (200 mg capsules only).

Crixivan does not contain gluten, sucrose, tartrazine or any other azo dyes.

Dose advice: How to use Crixivan

Before you take Crixivan

When you must not take it

Do not take Crixivan if:

  • You have an allergy to Crixivan or any of the ingredients listed here;
  • The packaging is torn or shows signs of tampering;
  • The expiry date on the pack has passed. If you take this medicine after the expiry date has passed, it may not work.

If you are not sure whether you should start taking Crixivan, talk to your doctor.

Before you start to take it

Tell your doctor if:

  • You have any allergies to any other medicines or any other substances, such as lactose, foods, preservatives or dyes. This medicine contains lactose;
  • You have any medical conditions, especially:
    • Liver disease due to cirrhosis;
    • Diabetes mellitus;
    • Haemophilia;
  • You are pregnant or intend to become pregnant.
    • It is not known whether Crixivan is harmful to an unborn baby when taken by a pregnant woman. If there is a need to take Crixivan when you are pregnant your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits to you and the unborn baby;
  • You are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.
    • It is not known whether Crixivan passes into breast milk. Because certain medicines pass into breast milk, if you are taking Crixivan your doctor will tell you to stop breastfeeding.

If you have not told your doctor about any of the above, tell them before you take any Crixivan.

Taking other medicines

Tell your doctor if you are taking any other medicines, herbal products, or dietary supplements, including those that you buy without a prescription from your pharmacy, supermarket or health food shop.

Some medicines should not be taken with Crixivan as they may cause a life-threatening interaction. These include:

  • Terfenadine (Teldane) and astemizole (Hismanal), antihistamines used for allergic conditions including hayfever;
  • Cisapride (Prepulsid), used to treat stomach reflux;
  • Alprazolam (Xanax, Ralozam, Kalma), triazolam (Halcion), used to treat anxiety, depression or for sleeplessness;
  • Pimozide used to treat psychosis;
  • Midazolam (Hypnovel), used as a sedative before surgical procedures;
  • Amiodarone (Aratac, Cardinorm, Cordarone, Rithmik), a medicine used to control fast or irregular heartbeat or heart rhythm disorders;
  • Some medicines used to treat a migraine that contain ergotamine, including Cafergot, Cafergot S, Ergodryl, Ergodryl Mono, Dihydergot.

In addition, the following medicines should not be taken with Crixivan:

  • Rifampicin (Rifadin, Rimycin), an antibiotic used to treat tuberculosis (TB) and infections caused by Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC);
  • Simvastatin (Zocor, Lipex) or lovastatin, medicines used to lower cholesterol levels;
  • St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), a herbal product sold as a dietary supplement, or products containing St. John’s wort.

Some medicines and Crixivan may interfere with each other. These include:

  • Delavirdine (Rescriptor) and efavirenz (Stocrin), nonnucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors used to treat HIV;
  • Ritonavir (Norvir), a protease inhibitor used to treat HIV infection;
  • Rifabutin (Mycobutin), an antibiotic used to treat TB and infections caused by MAC;
  • Ketoconazole (Nizoral) and itraconazole (Sporanox), used to treat fungal infections;
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), venlafaxine (Efexor and Efexor-XR) and fluvoxamine (Luvox), used to treat depression;
  • Erythromycin, an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections;
  • Diltiazem, nifedipine, and verapamil, used to treat high blood pressure and angina;
  • Phenytoin (Dilantin), carbamazepine (Tegretol, Teril), and phenobarbitone used to treat epilepsy;
  • Dexamethasone, a corticosteroid medicine;
  • ‘Statin’ medicines used to lower cholesterol levels, including atorvastatin (Lipitor);
  • Sildenafil (Viagra), a medicine used to treat impotence in men;
  • Quetiapine, a medicine used to treat some mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder.

These medicines may be affected by Crixivan or may affect how well it works. You may need different amounts of your medicine, or you may need to take different medicines.

Some medicines may interfere with the absorption of Crixivan. This includes:

  • Didanosine (ddI).

Take Crixivan and didanosine at least one hour apart on an empty stomach.

Make sure your doctor and pharmacist know about all of the medicines you are taking, as they have more information on medicines to be careful with or avoid while taking Crixivan.

How to take Crixivan

How much to take

Take Crixivan only when prescribed by your doctor. Your doctor will tell you how many capsules you need to take each day.

For adults, the usual dose is two 400 mg capsules (that is, 800 mg) taken every eight hours. It is important that you are started and continue on this dose.

However, this dose may be decreased if you have liver disease due to cirrhosis or are taking certain medicines, such as ketoconazole. Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits of decreasing the dose because dosage reduction may be associated with a decrease in effectiveness against the HIV infection.

Carefully follow all directions given to you by your doctor. They may differ from the information contained here.

If you do not understand the instructions on the bottle or box, ask your doctor or pharmacist for help.

What to take with it

The period around taking your capsules is the ‘dose window’ – when you must watch what you eat and drink. Remember 3-2-1:

3 hour period made up of:

2 hours before each dose

1 hour after each dose

Swallow Crixivan with a full glass of water or other liquid. Swallowing Crixivan with water ensures maximum absorption and effectiveness. However, if you do not like water, Crixivan can be swallowed with skim milk, juice (except grapefruit), coffee or tea.

Do not drink grapefruit juice within a dose window. Grapefruit juice significantly reduces the absorption of Crixivan, therefore decreasing its effectiveness.

If you need to eat within a dose window make sure it’s only small amounts of light food. Crixivan is absorbed well enough with small amounts of light food.

Examples of light food are dry toast with jam, juice (except grapefruit) and coffee with skim milk and sugar, or corn flakes with skim milk and sugar.

Taking Crixivan with a meal that is high in calories, fat and protein reduce your body’s ability to absorb the medicine and in turn reduces its effectiveness. You can indulge in high energy foods outside the 3-hour dose window.

However, taking Crixivan on an empty stomach improves absorption. This means not eating during the 3- hour dose window.

Ideal practice

Do not eat for two hours before and one hour after taking your dose.

Good practice

If you need to eat during a 3-hour dose window make sure it’s only small amounts of light food.

Unacceptable practice

Do not eat heavy food (high-fat, high protein, high-calorie) during the 3- hour dose windows.

When to take it

Take Crixivan at regular eight-hour intervals, at about the same times each day.

Keeping to the 8-hour interval between doses of Crixivan is important because keeping a constant level of Crixivan in the body helps prevent resistance. Resistance means that the medicine may lose its effectiveness over time.

How long to take it

Continue to take Crixivan for as long as your doctor tells you to. Crixivan helps control your HIV infection but does not cure it. Therefore Crixivan must be taken every day.

Do not stop taking Crixivan or change the dose without first checking with your doctor. Do not let yourself run out of medicine over weekends or on holidays. If you have a break in therapy or reduce your dose temporarily, the virus may develop resistance and therefore Crixivan may no longer be effective.

If you forget to take it

If you miss a dose but remember within two hours, take the missed dose. Otherwise, skip the missed dose and then go back to taking your capsules as you would normally.

If you are not sure whether to skip the dose, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Do not take a double dose to make up for the dose that you missed.

If you have trouble remembering to take your capsules, ask your pharmacist for some hints.

If you take too much (overdose)

Immediately telephone your doctor or Poisons Information Centre (telephone 13 11 26) for advice, or go to accident and emergency at your nearest hospital, if you think that you or anyone else may have taken too much Crixivan. Do this even if there are no signs of discomfort or poisoning.

If you take too many capsules, you may experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, blood in the urine, or sudden severe back pain which may be caused by kidney stones.

While you are using Crixivan

Things you must do

Drink at least six (6) full glasses of liquid a day (1.5 litres) to keep your kidneys flushed and your urine pale. This is to help reduce the possibility of kidney stones, which may be caused by the capsules. What you drink throughout the day depends on whether you are inside or outside your dose windows, however, water is preferable. Outside your dose windows, you can have any drink to help keep your fluids up. Drink tea, coffee and alcohol in moderation as they can cause dehydration. Try to get used to ordering a glass of water to drink with them. Remember, you have to drink even more fluid if you are exercising, dancing or are in a hot climate.

If you have diabetes, tell your doctor if you notice symptoms of high blood glucose levels. There have been some reports of diabetes and increased blood glucose, also called hyperglycaemia, in people treated with protease inhibitors. In some of these people, this led to ketoacidosis, a serious condition resulting from poorly controlled blood glucose. Before starting protease inhibitors, some people already had diabetes, others did not. Some people required adjustments to their diabetes medicines, while others needed new diabetes medicines.

If you are taking ‘statin’ medicines to lower your cholesterol level (including atorvastatin), and you notice any muscle pain or weakness not caused by exercise, tell your doctor immediately. Severe muscle pain and weakness have occurred in people taking protease inhibitors, including Crixivan, together with cholesterol-lowering medicines called ‘statins’.

Report any changes in your condition to your doctor immediately. This is to make sure that any infections which occur due to your low immunity (called opportunistic infections) are treated promptly.

If you have had a previous opportunistic infection, and you notice symptoms of inflammation occurring when you first start taking Crixivan, tell your doctor immediately. Symptoms of inflammation include redness, swelling, heat and pain. These symptoms have been reported in some patients who have previously had an infection when combination therapy that included Crixivan was started.

Continue to use safe sexual practices. Crixivan has not been shown to decrease the chance of transmitting HIV to a sexual partner.

If you are about to be started on any new medicine tell your doctor and pharmacist that you are taking Crixivan.

Tell all the doctors, dentists and pharmacists who are treating you that you are taking Crixivan.

If you become pregnant while taking Crixivan tell your doctor.

Things you must not do

Do not stop taking Crixivan or change the dose without first checking with your doctor. Do not let yourself run out of medicine over weekends or on holidays. If you have a break in therapy or reduce your dose temporarily, the virus may develop resistance and therefore Crixivan may no longer be effective.

Do not give Crixivan to anyone else, even if they have the same condition as you.

Things to be careful of

Be careful driving or operating machinery until you know how Crixivan affects you. Crixivan generally does not cause problems with your ability to drive a car or operate machinery. However, as with many medicines, Crixivan may cause dizziness in some people. Make sure you know how you react to Crixivan before you drive a car or operate machinery.

Be careful of what you eat and drink during dose windows.

After using Crixivan


Keep your capsules in the original bottle until it is time to take them. If you take the capsules out of the bottle they may not keep well, as they are affected by moisture. The original bottle contains a desiccant (silica gel in a small container) to help remove the moisture.

Do not remove the small container of silica gel from the bottle.

Keep Crixivan in a cool dry place where the temperature stays below 30°C. Do not store it or any other medicine in the bathroom or near a sink. Do not leave it in the car or on window sills. Heat and dampness can destroy some medicines.

Keep it where children cannot reach it. A locked cupboard at least one-and-a-half metres above the ground is a good place to store medicines.


If your doctor tells you to stop taking the capsules, or the capsules have passed their expiry date, ask your pharmacist what to do with any that are left over.

Schedule of Crixivan

Crixivan is a prescription only medicine (Schedule 4).

Side effects of Crixivan

Tell your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible if you do not feel well while you are taking Crixivan. Crixivan helps most people with HIV infection, but it may have unwanted side effects. All medicines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they are not. You may need medical treatment if you get some of the side effects.

Frequently it is difficult to tell whether side effects are the result of taking Crixivan, effects of the HIV disease or side effects of other medicines you may be taking. For this reason, it is very important to inform your doctor of any change in your condition. Your doctor may want to change your dose or advise you to stop taking Crixivan.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist to answer any questions you may have.

Tell your doctor if you notice any of the following and they worry you:

  • Heartburn;
  • Stomach pain, discomfort, or swelling;
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, wind;
  • Tiredness, weakness;
  • Dizziness, headache;
  • Skin problems such as dry skin, itching, rash, change in skin colour;
  • Increased fat appearing in areas such as the back of the neck, breasts, stomach and/or back;
  • Loss of body fat from areas such as face, arms and/or legs;
  • Hair loss or thinning;
  • Dry or numb mouth, change in your taste;
  • Pain and difficulty moving shoulder;
  • Difficulty sleeping;
  • Swollen glands;
  • Ingrown toenails with or without infection.

These are usually mild side effects.

Tell your doctor immediately or go to accident and emergency at your nearest hospital if you develop any of the following:

  • Sudden severe back pain, with or without blood in the urine, which may be caused by kidney stones;
  • Small, hard crystals in the urine;
  • Symptoms of inflamed or infected kidney(s), including fever, back pain, pain when passing urine;
  • Symptoms of decreased kidney function such as changes in urination that may result in swelling of the hands, feet, ankles or puffiness around the eyes;
  • Swelling of the face, lips, mouth, throat or tongue which may cause difficulty in swallowing or breathing;
  • Bruising or bleeding more easily than normal;
  • Any severe skin reaction;
  • Pinkish, itchy swellings on the skin, also called hives or nettle rash;
  • Symptoms of high blood glucose levels, including excessive thirst and/or eating, and passing large amounts of urine;
  • Yellowing of the skin and/or eyes which may be caused by liver problems;
  • A serious form of anaemia that includes symptoms such as fatigue, yellowing of the skin and/or eyes, being short of breath when exercising, and looking pale;
  • Pain or tightness in the chest, angina;
  • Collapse, numbness or weakness of arms or legs, confusion, visual disturbance, difficulty swallowing, slurred speech or loss of speech (stroke).

Because these side effects are serious, you may need urgent medical attention.

If you have haemophilia, tell your doctor immediately if you notice any increased bleeding. There have been some reports of bleeding episodes in people with haemophilia who are taking Crixivan or other protease inhibitors.

Tell your doctor if you notice any other effects. Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. The long-term effects of Crixivan are unknown at this time.

Do not be alarmed by this list of possible side effects. You may not experience any of them.

For further information talk to your doctor.


  1. Crixivan Consumer Medicine Information (CMI). Macquarie Park, NSW:  Merck Sharp & Dohme (Australia) Pty Limited. July 2015. [PDF]
  2. Crixivan Product Information (PI). Macquarie Park, NSW: Merck Sharp & Dohme (Australia) Pty Limited. July 2015. [PDF]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Posted On: 22 July, 2003
Modified On: 3 December, 2018
Reviewed On: 3 December, 2018


Created by: myVMC