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Ganciclovir (Systemic)

Generic Name: Ganciclovir (Systemic) (gan SYE kloe veer)
Brand Name: Cytovene

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Apr 28, 2020.

Warning

  • 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 fertility problems in animals and some humans. Fertility problems may lead to not being able get pregnant or father a child. This may go back to normal but sometimes it may not. If you have questions, talk with the doctor.
  • In animals, ganciclovir (systemic) has caused harm to unborn babies and cancer. This medicine may have the same effects in humans. If you have questions, 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 are allergic to ganciclovir (systemic); any part of ganciclovir (systemic); or any other drugs, foods, or substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had.
  • If you have any of these health problems: Low white blood cell count, low platelet count, or low red blood cell count.
  • 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.
  • If you are 65 or older, use ganciclovir (systemic) with care. You could have more side effects.
  • This medicine may cause harm to an unborn baby. A pregnancy test will be done before you start ganciclovir (systemic) to show that you are NOT pregnant.
  • Women must use birth control while taking ganciclovir (systemic) and for some time after the last dose. Ask your doctor how long to use birth control. If you get pregnant, call your doctor right away.
  • Men with a partner who may get pregnant must use a condom while taking ganciclovir (systemic) and for some time after the last dose. Ask your doctor how long to use a condom. If your partner gets pregnant, call the 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.

Children:

  • This medicine is not approved for use in children. However, the doctor may decide the benefits of taking ganciclovir (systemic) outweigh the risks. If your child has been given ganciclovir (systemic), ask the doctor for information about the benefits and risks. Talk with the doctor if you have questions about giving ganciclovir (systemic) to your child.

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.

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 or coughing up blood; vomit that looks like coffee grounds; blood in the urine; black, red, or tarry stools; bleeding from the gums; abnormal vaginal bleeding; bruises without a cause or that get bigger; or bleeding you cannot stop.
  • Signs of high or low 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.
  • Sweating a lot.
  • Feeling confused.
  • Anxiety.
  • Low mood (depression).
  • Change in how you act.
  • Seizures.
  • Shakiness.
  • A burning, numbness, or tingling feeling that is not normal.
  • Swollen belly.
  • Change in eyesight, eye pain, or very bad eye irritation.
  • Chest pain.
  • Swelling.
  • 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 dizzy, sleepy, tired, or weak.
  • Constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, upset stomach, throwing up, or feeling less hungry.
  • Headache.
  • Gas.
  • Strange or odd dreams.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Hair loss.
  • Dry skin.
  • Change in taste.
  • Weight loss.
  • Back, 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 1-800-332-1088. You may also report side effects at https://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

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 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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.