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Ganciclovir

Pronunciation

Generic Name: ganciclovir (gan-SYE-kloe-vir)
Brand Name: Cytovene

Ganciclovir may cause low white blood cell levels, low platelet levels, and anemia. In animal studies, it caused cancer, low sperm production, and birth defects. Ganciclovir is used to treat cytomegalovirus (CMV) eye infection in patients with a weakened immune system. It is also used to prevent CMV infection in certain transplant patients. It is not approved for any other conditions.


Ganciclovir is used for:

Treating CMV eye infection in patients with a weakened immune system. It is used to prevent CMV infection in certain organ transplant patients. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Ganciclovir is an antiviral agent. It works by blocking reproduction of the CMV virus.

Do NOT use ganciclovir if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in ganciclovir or to acyclovir
  • you have very low white blood cell or platelet levels

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

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Before using ganciclovir:

Some medical conditions may interact with ganciclovir. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have a history of blood disorders, kidney problems, other eye problems, HIV infection, or bone marrow problems
  • if you are on dialysis or do not have a weakened immune system
  • if you have low white blood cell or platelet levels, or if you have a history of low white blood cell or platelet levels caused by medicine, chemotherapy, or radiation

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with ganciclovir. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Medicines that may harm the kidney (eg, aminoglycoside antibiotics [eg, gentamicin], amphotericin B, cyclosporine, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDs] [eg, ibuprofen], tacrolimus, vancomycin) because the risk of kidney side effects may be increased. Ask your doctor if you are unsure if any of your medicines might harm the kidney
  • Imipenem/cilastin because seizures may occur
  • Probenecid because it may increase the risk of ganciclovir's side effects
  • Zidovudine because the risk of blood disorders may be increased
  • Adriamycin, amphotericin B, dapsone, didanosine, flucytosine, pentamidine, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, vinblastine, or vincristine because the risk of their side effects may be increased by ganciclovir

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if ganciclovir may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use ganciclovir:

Use ganciclovir as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Ganciclovir is usually given as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. If you will be using ganciclovir at home, a health care provider will teach you how to use it. Be sure you understand how to use ganciclovir. Follow the procedures you are taught when you use a dose. Contact your health care provider if you have any questions.
  • Do not use ganciclovir if it contains particles, is cloudy or discolored, or if the vial is cracked or damaged.
  • Keep this product, as well as syringes and needles, out of the reach of children and pets. Do not reuse needles, syringes, or other materials. Ask your health care provider how to dispose of these materials after use. Follow all local rules for disposal.
  • Continue to use ganciclovir even if you feel well. Do not miss any doses.
  • If you miss a dose of ganciclovir, contact your doctor for instructions.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use ganciclovir.

Important safety information:

  • Ganciclovir may cause dizziness and drowsiness. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use ganciclovir with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • Ganciclovir may lower the ability of your body to fight infection. Avoid contact with people who have colds or infections. Tell your doctor if you notice signs of infection like fever, sore throat, rash, or chills.
  • Ganciclovir may reduce the number of clot-forming cells (platelets) in your blood. Avoid activities that may cause bruising or injury. Tell your doctor if you have unusual bruising or bleeding. Tell your doctor if you have dark, tarry, or bloody stools.
  • Ganciclovir is not a cure for CMV infection and you may continue to experience effects of the infection during or after treatment.
  • Do NOT take more than the recommended dose or use for longer than prescribed without checking with your doctor.
  • Tell your doctor or dentist that you take ganciclovir before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.
  • Ganciclovir has been shown to cause cancer in animals, and may cause cancer in humans. Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.
  • If you may become pregnant, you must use an effective form of birth control while you take ganciclovir. If you have questions about effective birth control, talk with your doctor.
  • Ganciclovir may lower sperm production and make you unable to have children. Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.
  • Men who take ganciclovir should always use a condom when having sex with a woman who may become pregnant. Do this for as long as you take ganciclovir and for at least 90 days after you stop taking it.
  • Lab tests, including kidney function tests, eye examinations, and complete blood cell counts, may be performed to monitor your progress or to check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Use ganciclovir with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects.
  • Ganciclovir should be used with extreme caution in CHILDREN; safety and effectiveness in children have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: Ganciclovir may cause harm to the fetus. Do not become pregnant while you are using it. If you think you may be pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using ganciclovir while you are pregnant. It is not known if ganciclovir is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while using ganciclovir.

Possible side effects of ganciclovir:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Diarrhea; loss of appetite; sweating; vomiting.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); bloody or black, tarry stools; change in the amount of urine produced; confusion; fever, chills, or sore throat; numbness or tingling of hands or feet; pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site; severe or persistent stomach pain; unusual bleeding or bruising; unusual tiredness or weakness; vision changes (eg, blurred vision, flashes of light); vomit that looks like coffee grounds.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include decreased urination; severe diarrhea or vomiting.

Proper storage of ganciclovir:

Ganciclovir is usually handled and stored by a health care provider. If you are using ganciclovir at home, store ganciclovir as directed by your pharmacist or health care provider. Keep ganciclovir out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about ganciclovir, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Ganciclovir is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take ganciclovir or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about ganciclovir. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to ganciclovir. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using ganciclovir.

Issue Date: April 2, 2014
Database Edition 14.2.1.001
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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