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Cytovene (injection)

Generic Name: ganciclovir (injection) (gan SYE kloe veer)
Brand Name: Cytovene

Medically reviewed by on Aug 24, 2018 – Written by Cerner Multum

What is Cytovene?

Cytovene is an antiviral drug that slows the growth and spread of the cytomegalovirus (CMV).

Cytovene is used to treat CMV retinitis in people with immunosuppression caused by HIV or AIDS. This medicine is also used to prevent CMV disease in people with immunosuppression due to an organ transplant.

Cytovene may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

Cytovene can weaken (suppress) your immune system, and you may get an infection or bleed more easily. Call your doctor if you have unusual bruising or bleeding, pale skin, cold hands and feet, feeling light-headed or short of breath, or signs of infection (fever, chills, tiredness, mouth sores, skin sores, frequent or recurring illness).

Cytovene can cause birth defects. Both men and women using this medicine should use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy. Keep using birth control for at least 30 days (for women) or 90 days (for men) after your last dose. Cytovene may also affect fertility in a man or a woman.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use this medicine if you are allergic to Cytovene or valacyclovir.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • kidney disease (or if you are on dialysis);

  • low blood cell counts; or

  • radiation treatment.

Using Cytovene may increase your risk of developing certain types of cancers. Ask your doctor about this risk.

Cytovene can harm an unborn baby or cause birth defects if the mother or the father is using this medicine.

  • If you are a woman, do not use Cytovene if you are pregnant. You may need to have a negative pregnancy test before starting this treatment. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using this medicine and for at least 30 days after your last dose.

  • If you are a man, use effective birth control if your sex partner is able to get pregnant. Keep using birth control for at least 90 days after your last dose.

  • Tell your doctor right away if a pregnancy occurs while either the mother or the father is using Cytovene.

This medicine may affect fertility (ability to have children) in both men and women. However, it is important to use birth control to prevent pregnancy because Cytovene can harm an unborn baby.

It is not safe to breast-feed a baby while you are using this medicine. Women with HIV or AIDS should not breast feed a baby. Even if your baby is born without HIV, the virus may be passed to the baby in your breast milk.

Do not give this medicine to a child without medical advice.

How should I use Cytovene?

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Cytovene is given as an infusion into a vein. A healthcare provider will give your first dose and may teach you how to properly use the medication by yourself.

Read and carefully follow any Instructions for Use provided with your medicine. Do not use Cytovene if you don't understand all instructions for proper use. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions.

Cytovene powder must be mixed with a liquid (diluent) before using it. When using injections by yourself, be sure you understand how to properly mix and store the medicine.

Prepare your injection only when you are ready to give it. Do not use if the medicine has changed colors or has particles in it. Call your pharmacist for new medicine.

Cytovene can be dangerous if it gets in your mouth, eyes, or nose, or on your skin. If this happens, wash your skin with soap and water or rinse your eyes with water. Ask your pharmacist how to safely dispose of a medicine spill.

Use this medicine for the full prescribed length of time, even if your symptoms quickly improve. Skipping doses may increase the risk of your virus becoming resistant to medication.

Cytovene can increase your risk of bleeding or infection by changing the way your immune system works. You will need frequent medical tests and eye exams.

Drink plenty of liquids while you are using Cytovene, to keep your kidneys working properly.

Cytovene is not a cure for CMV. Every person with CMV should remain under the care of a doctor.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. You may store mixed medicine at room temperature, but you must use it within 12 hours after mixing.

Use a needle and syringe only once and then place them in a puncture-proof "sharps" container. Follow state or local laws about how to dispose of this container. Keep it out of the reach of children and pets.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss a dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Overdose symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, decreased urination, yellowing of the skin or eyes, seizure, or infections (fever, chills, frequent illness).

What should I avoid while using Cytovene?

Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how Cytovene will affect you. Your reactions could be impaired.

Cytovene side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • low blood cell counts--fever, chills, tiredness, mouth sores, skin sores, easy bruising, unusual bleeding, pale skin, cold hands and feet, feeling light-headed or short of breath;

  • pain or burning when you urinate;

  • a seizure; or

  • kidney problems--little or no urination, swelling in your feet or ankles, feeling tired or short of breath.

Side effects may be more likely in older adults.

Common side effects may include:

  • nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, loss of appetite;

  • fever, weakness, low blood cell counts;

  • headache;

  • cough, trouble breathing; or

  • increased sweating.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect Cytovene?

Cytovene can harm your kidneys, especially if you also use certain medicines for infections, cancer, osteoporosis, organ transplant rejection, bowel disorders, or pain or arthritis (including aspirin, Tylenol, Advil, and Aleve).

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines, especially:

  • didanosine;

  • probenecid; or

  • drugs that weaken the immune system such as cancer medicine or steroids.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect Cytovene, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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