1 What is Cytovene?

Brand: Cytovene and Cytovene IV

Generic: Ganciclovir

Brand name:

Cytovene and Cytovene IV

Ganciclovir is an antiviral drug that is indicated for the treatment of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections of the eye like retinitis.

It is usually given to patients with low immune systems including those suffering from acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

It can also be given to organ or bone marrow transplant recipients.

However, ganciclovir cannot treat the disease but can only manage the symptoms and keep them from getting worse.

Also, this medication may not work on other viruses like the flu virus.

Ganciclovir should be given by a doctor or under direct supervision of one. Oral ganciclovir is sold as a capsule and the IV ganciclovir is sold as a powder for reconstitution.

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2 What to Know Before Using

Ganciclovir can cause a number of serious side effects, so you and your doctor should discuss the risks and benefits involved before starting treatment.

You also need to consider several factors. This medication should not be prescribed to patients who are allergic to ganciclovir and acyclovir.

Inform your doctor if you’ve had hypersensitivity reactions to acyclovir and similar medicines.

You must tell your healthcare team if you are allergic to any kind of food, preservative, dyes, animals, and/or other medications.

You should talk to your pediatrician or your child’s doctor before deciding to use ganciclovir. As mentioned earlier, it can cause serious side effects.

Research on the effects of ganciclovir in elderly patients is scarce. It is not concretely known if ganciclovir has the same effects in getiatric patients as they do in younger adults.

This medication has a pregnancy category of C, which means that its effects on human pregnant women have not been adequately studied. The same goes for nursing mothers. Therefore, the risks and benefits of using ganciclovir in pregnant and breastfeeding women should be weighed carefully.

Ganciclovir can also interact with other medications. Concomitant use of imipenem is not recommended but can be necessary at times. In such cases, your doctor may adjust the dosage and timing of either or both medications.

If didanosine is used concomitantly with ganciclovir, you may be at risk of developing certain side effects.

This medication can also make the following medical conditions worse:

3 Proper Usage

Follow your physician’s instructions regarding the proper dosage and timing of this medication.

These usually depend on your condition and your body’s reaction to the treatment. Ganciclovir capsules should always be taken with food so that it is completely absorbed.

Take your medication on a regular schedule. Try not to miss any dose.

Adults and teenagers suffering from CMV retinitis who have received initial treatment should take 1000 mg three times daily with food.

Adult and teenage transplant patients should take 1000 mg three times daily with food.

The same goes for those with advanced HIV infection. The dosage for adults and teenagers with CMV retinitis who are receiving intravenous ganciclovir should be determined by the physician based on the patient’s body weight.

The same is true for the prevention CMV in transplant patients.

4 Precautions to Take

You need to go to your follow-up checkups religiously so that your doctor can monitor your white blood cell and platelet count levels.

Ganciclovir can cause a decrease in these two blood components. Decreased white blood cells could make your prone to bacterial infections.

So consult your doctor as soon as possible if you think you have an infection other than CMV.

As previously mentioned, ganciclovir can also decrease your platelets, which puts you at risk of abnormal bleeding.

You should report to your doctor if you experience the following symptoms:

  • unusual bleeding/bruising,
  • blood in urine or stools,
  • black/tarry stools,
  • red spots (pinpoint) on your skin.

When you brush your teeth, use a toothbrush that has soft bristles. You should also floss gently. Handle sharp objects carefully. Do not engage in contact sports while taking ganciclovir.

Men and women should practice effective birth control methods during the treatment. Men, in particular, should wear a condom during and 90 days after ganciclovir treatment.

You should also see your ophthalmologist regularly especially if you have CMV retinitis.

5 Potential Side Effects

There are several side effects associated with ganciclovir treatment.

You may not experience all of them, and some of them do not need treatment.

However, if you experience the following, check with your healthcare provider right away:

  • sore throat,
  • fever,
  • unusual bleeding or bruising,
  • mood/mental changes,
  • nervousness,
  • pain at injection site,
  • skin rash, tremors,
  • unusual tiredness/weakness.

For those receiving injections into the eye, the side effects can include decreased or any change in vision.

If you experience other unusual side effects, inform your physician immediately.

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