GanciclovirOther Names: Cytovene IV, ganciclovir sodium Drug Class: Opportunistic Infections and Coinfections
What is ganciclovir?
Ganciclovir is a prescription medicine approved by the U.S.(FDA) for the treatment of (CMV) (a viral infection and inflammation of the eye’s ) in individuals with AIDS. Ganciclovir is also FDA-approved for the prevention of CMV disease in transplant recipients at risk for CMV diseases.
CMV diseases, including CMV retinitis, are opportunistic infections (OIs) of HIV. An OI is an infection that occurs more frequently or is more severe in people with weakened immune systems—such as people with HIV—than in people with healthy immune systems. To learn more about OIs, read the What is an Opportunistic Infection? fact sheet.
How is ganciclovir used in people with HIV?
The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents include recommendations on the uses of ganciclovir in people living with HIV.
Using a medicine as indicated on the medicine label is called; using the medicine in a different way is called . Off-label use, for example, can include using a drug for a different disease or medical condition. Good medical practice and the best interests of a patient sometimes require that a medicine be used off-label.
The guidelines include recommendations on the following uses of ganciclovir:
- Treat CMV retinitis
- Prevent CMV disease in transplant recipients at risk for CMV diseases
- Other types of CMV disease, including CMV pneumonitis ( and inflammation of the lungs) and CMV neurological disease (infection and disease of the nervous system).
- Two (VZV) diseases called progressive outer retinal necrosis and acute retinal necrosis, both of which are infection and necrotizing inflammation (causing tissue death) of the eye's retina.
- Certain human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) diseases, including multicentric Castleman’s disease (a disease of the ).
- Prevent CMV retinitis from recurring.
The above list may not include all of the HIV-related uses of ganciclovir recommended in the guidelines. Some recommended uses, such as uses in certain rare circumstances, may have been omitted.
What should I tell my health care provider before taking ganciclovir?
Before taking ganciclovir, tell your health care provider:
- If you are allergic to ganciclovir or any other medicines.
- About any medical conditions you have or have had.
- About any health conditions that may prevent you from receiving medicine by injection or .
- If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Whether ganciclovir can harm an unborn baby is unknown, but ganciclovir may cause birth defects at recommended levels. Ganciclovir should not be used during pregnancy. Women taking ganciclovir should use birth control. Men taking ganciclovir should use barrier contraception (e.g., condoms) during treatment and for at least 90 days after treatment. Talk to your health care provider about possible risks with taking ganciclovir when pregnant.
- If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you have HIV.
- About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Especially tell your doctor if you are taking zidovudine (brand name: Retrovir) or didanosine (brand names: Videx, Videx EC). Ganciclovir may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how ganciclovir works. Ask your health care provider if there are interactions between ganciclovir and the other medicines you take.
Ask your health care provider about possible side effects from ganciclovir. Your health care provider will tell you what to do if you have side effects.
How should I take ganciclovir?
Take ganciclovir according to your health care provider’s instructions. Your health care provider will tell you how much ganciclovir to take and when to take it. Before you start ganciclovir and each time you get a refill, read any printed information that comes with your medicine.
How should ganciclovir be stored?
- Ganciclovir is prepared in many steps. Each step has different storage recommendations. Follow the instructions provided by your health care provider to prepare and store ganciclovir correctly.
- Do not use ganciclovir if the original seal over the container opening is broken or missing.
- Throw away ganciclovir that is no longer needed or expired (out of date). Follow FDA guidelines on how to safely dispose of unused medicine.
- Keep ganciclovir and all medicines out of reach of children.
Where can I find more information about ganciclovir?
More information about ganciclovir is available:
- Recommendations on the HIV-related uses of ganciclovir, from the Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents, prepared by the , the , and the HIV Medicine Association of the Diseases Society of America
- Ganciclovir-related research studies, from the AIDSinfo database of study summaries
The above Patient Version drug summary is based on the following FDA label(s): Injection (powder, lyophilized, for solution).
Last Reviewed: October 5, 2018
- Patient Version HTML
- FDA Label: Injection (powder, lyophilized, for solution) PDF (284 KB)