Ganciclovir: Uses & Side Effects

Ganciclovir is an antiviral drug that slows the growth and spread of the cytomegalovirus (CMV). It is used to treat CMV retinitis in people with immunosuppression caused by HIV or AIDS. Ganciclovir is also used to prevent CMV disease in people with immunosuppression due to an organ transplant.In addition, ganciclovir may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Uses of Ganciclovir

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.

Ganciclovir 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 ganciclovir if you don’t understand all instructions for proper use. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions.

Ganciclovir injection 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.

Ganciclovir 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.

Ganciclovir 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 ganciclovir, to keep your kidneys working properly.

Ganciclovir 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.

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.

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.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.