Brand name: Cytovene

Class of drugs: Antiviral

Why is ganciclovir prescribed?

Ganciclovir is prescribed to transplant patients in order to treat or prevent the development of cytomegalovirus (CMV), an eye infection. Ganciclovir will not cure this infection, but it might help to keep the symptoms from becoming worse.

How is ganciclovir given?

This medicine comes as a tablet that is swallowed or as an injection. This drug works best when there is a constant amount of it in the bloodstream. In order to achieve this, it is recommended that you take ganciclovir on a regular schedule, usually several times a day for the tablet form and as determined by your doctor for the injected form. Ganciclovir must be taken for the entire duration of treatment in order to achieve the best results. The dose of this drug will be different for each patient. Be sure to follow exactly your doctor’s orders and the directions on the prescription label. When taking the tablet form of this drug, it is important to take it with food so your body will absorb it completely and so it will work properly.

Are there any special precautions I should follow before taking ganciclovir?

Before taking ganciclovir, tell your doctor:

  • About any prescription or over-the-counter medicines you are currently taking, including any herbal medicines or supplements.
  • If you have any allergies.
  • If you have a low white blood cell count.
  • If you have a low blood platelet count.

What are the common side effects?

The most common side effects of ganciclovir include:

  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Nervousness
  • Swelling of the feet or ankles

When should I call my doctor?

If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • Sore throat or fever
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Black, tarry stool
  • Pain at place of injection
  • Rash
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Mood or mental changes

What should I do if I forget a dose?

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is within two hours of your next dose, skip the missed dose and proceed with your regular schedule. Do not take a double dose.

What storage conditions are necessary for this drug?

Ganciclovir should be kept in its original container, tightly sealed and away from children. It should be stored at room temperature, away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom), and out of direct sunlight. Throw away any medicine that is outdated or unused.

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