Kaletra is an FDA-approved prescription medication used to treat, but not cure human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It combines two antiviral medications, lopinavir and ritonavir to prevent the multiplication of HIV that causes AIDS, hence reducing viral load.

This medication is usually prescribed to adults and children aged 2 years and above, weighing at least 7kgs.

How Does Kaletra Work?

Kaletra functions by combining lopinavir and ritonavir medications, which are both protease inhibitors. The drug helps to block protease, an enzyme used by HIV to reproduce. Once the enzyme is blocked, it slows the growth and multiplication of the virus in the body.

While lopinavir acts actively towards the virus, ritonavir comes in as a ‘booster’ by slowing down the breakdown of lopinavir in the liver. This ensures more lopinavir is available in the body to slow the reproduction and multiplication of the virus, hence a low viral load.

Kaletra Forms

Kaletra comes in two forms:

Oral Solution

This is a light yellow to orange colored liquid consisting of 100 mg ritonavir and 400mg lopinavir per 5ml.

Tablets

Available as two tablets with different strengths. These are:

  • A pale yellow, oval-shaped tablet coated with a film, and has a logo and the code KC imprinted on it. It contains 100mg lopinavir and 25 mg ritonavir in each
  • A yellow, oval-shaped tablet coated with a film, and has a logo with a code KA imprinted on it. It consists of 200mg lopinavir and 50 mg ritonavir in each tablet.

Precautions and Warnings with Kaletra

Kaletra is declared a safe medication for use by patients who have HIV. However, it has several precautions and warnings that patients need to be mindful of before using it. If these precautions are not followed, Kaletra could cause severe health risks.

  • Allergic Reactions: Tell your doctor if you’re allergic to the medication or if you have any allergies to prevent allergic reactions and other serious problems.
  • Pancreatitis: Taking Kaletra may cause pancreatitis or worsen the condition. Patients suffering from pancreatitis should talk to their doctor before administering the medication.
  • Hemophilia: Kaletra may cause excess bleeding in patients suffering from hemophilia A and B. If you experience these symptoms, discontinue the medication immediately and seek medical advice.
  • Fat Gain or Fat Loss: Patients taking Kaletra, may develop an increase or decrease in appetite, which may make them add or lose weight.
  • Hepatotoxicity: HIV medicines might cause hepatotoxicity, which can be life-threatening. If you are suffering from hepatitis B or C, talk to your doctor before starting treatment because it might increase your risk of experiencing liver decompensation
  • Diabetes Mellitus: Some patients experience a new development of diabetes mellitus and worsening of the condition when using Kaletra. Talk to your doctor for advice and appropriate dose adjustments.

Side Effects Associated With Kaletra

Kaletra comes with side effects, which can be mild or severe. However, not every patient will get these side effects. If you experience any severe side effects contact your doctor immediately.

Common Side Effects

  • Hiccups
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Profuse sweating
  • Bloating
  • Dry mouth

Severe Side Effects

  • Blood in your urine
  • Irregular or fast heartbeat
  • Decrease of weight
  • Pain in the joints
  • Stomach or abdominal pain
  • Swollen lymph node

Kaletra Drug Interactions

Kaletra may interact with different kinds of medication, altering how it works and potentially causing unwanted effects. It is important to be aware of the possible interactions for the safe use of the drug.

Drug Interaction
AlbuterolConcurrent use of Kaletra and albuterol (Proair) can raise the risk of having an irregular heartbeat, which in rare cases can be severe and even life-threatening.
SildenafilThe interaction between sildenafil (Viagra) and Kaletra may increase the level of sildenafil in the blood and result in side effects such as prolonged erection and hypotension.
DigoxinThe use of these two medications may lead to an increase in the level of digoxin in the blood stream hence intensifying certain symptoms such as vomiting, visual disturbance, and nausea.
CarbamazepineUsing these two medications concurrently reduces the level of carbamazepine (Tegretol) in the blood thereby decreasing its effectiveness and raising the risk of developing seizures.
WarfarinKaletra reduces the effectiveness of warfarin, potentially raising the risk of bleeding.
MidazolamMidazolam interacts with Kaletra increasing the level of midazolam in the bloodstream which may lead to enhanced side effects of prolonged sedation.

Strengths and Dosages of Kaletra 

Kaletra is prescribed to adults and children aged 2 years and older, weighing 7 kgs or more. For children who are 17 years and below, the dosage is prescribed based on the weight of the patient as outlined in the table below.

Weight (kg)                               DosageNo. of Times a Day
Minimum DosageMaximum Dosage
Children weighing 7-10kg25mg100mgTwice per day
Children weighing 10-25kg50mg200mgTwice per day
Children weighing 25-35kg75mg300mgTwice per day
Children above 35kg100mg400mgTwice per day
Adults 18 years of age and above200mg800mgOnce per day

When taking the medication, swallow it as a whole and avoid chewing, breaking, or crashing it. You can take it with or without food, for increased efficacy.

For pediatric use, Kaletra can be crushed, but only under clinical practice for easy administration.

Kaletra Alternatives

Several medications have been declared safe for use in place of Kaletra. Each of the medicines treats HIV by targeting the virus at different stages of its cycle, reducing its replication in the body. These safe alternatives include:

  • Darunavir: This type of medicine is a protease inhibitor and it works by blocking the action of protease enzymes, which are essential for the replication of the virus.
  • Emtricitabine: It is a combination of two Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors, which work by blocking the action of reverse transcriptase hence reducing the amount of virus in the body.
  • Other Medications: Other alternative medications include epzicom, efavirenz, ritonavir, elvitegravir, atazanavir, and raltegravir.

FAQs of Kaletra

What are the possible side effects of Kaletra?

The most noticeable side effects of Kaletra include high blood pressure, bleeding, stomach pain, changes in body weight, and headaches.

Can I gain weight while taking Kaletra?

Yes. One common side effect of Kaletra is either an increase or decrease in appetite which could potentially lead to weight gain or shedding some extra pounds.

Who should not take Kaletra?

Kaletra should not be administered to patients having allergic reactions to its ingredients. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people under some medications such as cisapride, lomitapide, and alfuzosin should also not be given the medication.

Can Kaletra be taken before or after food?

You can take Kaletra tablets with or without food, whichever suits you best. This allows for convenient and adaptable dosing, making it easier to incorporate Kaletra into your daily routine.

What is Kaletra used for?

Kaletra is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of HIV infections in both children and adults.

Can I drink alcohol while on Kaletra?

No. It is advisable not to take alcohol when taking Kaletra because it may interfere with the effectiveness of the medication or may cause dizziness and drowsiness.

What happens if I miss Kaletra for three consecutive days?

Skipping Kaletra medication can lower its effectiveness and raise the risk of developing drug resistance, making some HIV drugs not work as they should.

What is the cost of Kaletra America?

The average price of Kaletra is around $549 for a supply of 160 ml, oral liquid 400-100mg. This price may vary depending on the pharmacy you visit and location.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. It should not be taken as an endorsement of any specific medication or treatment. Individual health conditions and responses to treatment can vary greatly; therefore, this information should not be seen as a guarantee of safety, suitability, or effectiveness for any particular individual. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized medical advice and before making any decisions regarding your health or treatment plans.

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