Medically reviewed on April 4, 2018.
- Very bad and sometimes life-threatening blood and bone marrow problems like anemia, low platelet counts, or low white blood cell counts have happened with ganciclovir (systemic). Change in dose or even stopping the drug may be needed if any of these side effects happen. Talk with the doctor.
- This medicine has caused cancer, fertility problems in males and females that could be long-lasting, and harm to unborn babies in animals. This medicine may have the same effects in humans. Talk with the doctor.
Uses of Ganciclovir:
- It is used to treat a viral infection of the eyes in people with immune system problems.
- It is used to prevent cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease after organ transplant.
- It may be given to you for other reasons. Talk with the doctor.
What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take Ganciclovir?
- If you have an allergy to ganciclovir or any other part of ganciclovir (systemic).
- If you are allergic to any drugs like this one, any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.
- If you have any of these health problems: Low blood cell count or poor bone marrow function.
- If you are taking imipenem-cilastatin.
- If you are breast-feeding. Do not breast-feed while you take ganciclovir (systemic).
This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with ganciclovir (systemic).
Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take ganciclovir (systemic) with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.
What are some things I need to know or do while I take Ganciclovir?
For all uses of ganciclovir (systemic):
- Tell all of your health care providers that you take ganciclovir (systemic). This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
- Avoid driving and doing other tasks or actions that call for you to be alert until you see how ganciclovir (systemic) affects you.
- Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
- You may have more chance of getting an infection. Wash hands often. Stay away from people with infections, colds, or flu.
- You may bleed more easily. Be careful and avoid injury. Use a soft toothbrush and an electric razor.
- Holes in the GI (gastrointestinal) tract, organ failure, pancreas irritation (pancreatitis), and a very bad blood infection (sepsis) have happened with ganciclovir (systemic). These health problems could be deadly. Talk with the doctor.
- Use with care in children. Talk with the doctor.
- If you are 65 or older, use ganciclovir (systemic) with care. You could have more side effects.
- If you are a man and have sex with a female who could get pregnant, protect her from pregnancy during care and for 3 months after care ends. Use a condom.
- If you are a man and your sex partner gets pregnant while you take ganciclovir (systemic) or within 3 months after your last dose, call your doctor right away.
- This medicine may cause harm to the unborn baby if you take it while you are pregnant.
- If you are able to get pregnant, a pregnancy test will be done to show that you are NOT pregnant before starting ganciclovir (systemic). Talk with your doctor.
- Use birth control that you can trust to prevent pregnancy while taking ganciclovir (systemic) and for at least 1 month after stopping ganciclovir (systemic).
- If you get pregnant while taking ganciclovir (systemic) or within 1 month after your last dose, call your doctor right away.
For CMV infections of the eye:
- This medicine is not a cure for CMV infections of the eye. Stay under the care of your doctor.
- Have an eye exam as you have been told by your doctor.
How is this medicine (Ganciclovir) best taken?
Use ganciclovir (systemic) as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.
- It is given as an infusion into a vein over a period of time.
- Drink lots of noncaffeine liquids unless told to drink less liquid by your doctor.
What do I do if I miss a dose?
- Call your doctor to find out what to do.
See also: Dosage Information (in more detail)
What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?
WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:
- Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
- Signs of infection like fever, chills, very bad sore throat, ear or sinus pain, cough, more sputum or change in color of sputum, pain with passing urine, mouth sores, or wound that will not heal.
- Signs of bleeding like throwing up blood or throw up that looks like coffee grounds; coughing up blood; blood in the urine; black, red, or tarry stools; bleeding from the gums; vaginal bleeding that is not normal; bruises without a reason or that get bigger; or any bleeding that is very bad or that you cannot stop.
- Signs of high blood pressure like very bad headache or dizziness, passing out, or change in eyesight.
- Signs of kidney problems like unable to pass urine, change in how much urine is passed, blood in the urine, or a big weight gain.
- Signs of a pancreas problem (pancreatitis) like very bad stomach pain, very bad back pain, or very bad upset stomach or throwing up.
- Feeling very tired or weak.
- Sweating a lot.
- Feeling confused.
- Low mood (depression).
- Change in how you act.
- A burning, numbness, or tingling feeling that is not normal.
- Very bad belly pain.
- Swollen belly.
- Change in eyesight, eye pain, or very bad eye irritation.
- Chest pain.
- Shortness of breath.
- Ringing in ears.
- Hearing loss.
- A heartbeat that does not feel normal.
- Pain and irritation where ganciclovir (systemic) goes into the body.
What are some other side effects of Ganciclovir?
All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:
- Feeling sleepy.
- Not hungry.
- Upset stomach or throwing up.
- Loose stools (diarrhea).
- Feeling tired or weak.
- Belly pain.
- Hard stools (constipation).
- Strange or odd dreams.
- Dry mouth.
- Not able to sleep.
- Hair loss.
- Dry skin.
- Change in taste.
- Weight loss.
- Back pain.
- Muscle or joint pain.
- Muscle spasm.
- Leg cramps.
These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
If OVERDOSE is suspected:
If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.
How do I store and/or throw out Ganciclovir?
- If you need to store ganciclovir (systemic) at home, talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about how to store it.
Consumer information use
- If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
- Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else's drugs.
- Keep a list of all your drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your doctor.
- Talk with the doctor before starting any new drug, including prescription or OTC, natural products, or vitamins.
- Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
- Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.
- Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. Check with your pharmacist. If you have any questions about ganciclovir (systemic), please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
- If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
More about ganciclovir
- Side Effects
- During Pregnancy
- Dosage Information
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- Drug Interactions
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- Drug class: purine nucleosides
Other brands: Cytovene