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Norvir Advisory

Tips for Taking Liquid Ritonavir (Norvir) by Lisa Hirschhorn, MD, DIMOCK Community Health Center, Roxbury, MA

Due to problems in making the ritonavir 100mg capsules, everyone will need to switch to ritonavir in liquid form. The total time needed to fix the problem and produce new capsules is unknown, so you may be on the liquid for next several months.

The ritonavir solution has a minty-bitter tastes that is unpleasant. How bad it is depends on whom you ask and how your own taste buds react.

To help with managing the taste of the liquid, we offer the following suggestions:

  1. Some people are able to take the medication alone and follow it with something with a strong taste such as a peppermint or wintergreen mint, cinnamon candy or even lemon juice (fresh is best).

  2. Try a small amount of peanut butter taken before and after you take the medication. This should be followed with a drink of water or milk.

  3. Eat a salty food such as potato chips or corn chips both before and after you take the medication.

  4. Take a spoonful of chocolate syrup or chocolate supplement drink (Ensure, Advera, etc.) before and after the medicine, or mix the medicine with a small amount of chocolate milk or supplement and follow with a big drink of chocolate milk, supplement or water.

  5. Try sucking on a Popsicle to numb your mouth before and after taking the medicine.

Other suggestions are:

  • Do not lick your lips after taking the medicine, the taste will get on your lips and stay there for a while. If this does not happen, try a strong tasting candy to mask the taste.

  • If you are a diabetic, you need to check with your provider and make sure you use diabetic candies and drinks.

It is important to be aware that the liquid Norvir (ritonavir) contains alcohol (400mg is equal to approx. 1/6 of a shot of a whisky). We do not know if this will show up in a tox screen (we are checking). If you are on Antabuse or taking Flagyl (metronidazole), you need to notify your provider before taking liquid retonavir. People who are in recovery should discuss with their provider if they have concerns that liquid retonavir might compromise their sobriety.


  • The medication should still be taken with food that contains some fat.

  • DO NOT refrigerate the liquid ritonavir.

  • Always shake the bottle to dissolve any particles. If you still see particles after vigorous shaking, take the current dose and then exchange at pharmacy for new bottle.

Posted 9/2/98

Notice: This is an IAPAC initiative that is under the sole direction of the IAPAC Norvir Advisory Committee. Contents of the Norvir Advisory section of the IAPAC Web site are subject to the approval of the chair of the advisory committee and will reflect the recommendations of the committee members. Abbott Laboratories has no input in the content of the Norvir Advisory section of the IAPAC Web site.