What is valganciclovir hydrochloride?
Valganciclovir hydrochloride is a prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of cytomegalovirus retinitis (a viral infection and inflammation of the eye’s retina) in adults with AIDS. Valganciclovir hydrochloride is also FDA approved for the prevention of cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease in certain transplant recipients at high risk for developing CMV diseases.
CMV diseases, including CMV retinitis, are opportunistic infections. An opportunistic infection is an infection that occurs more frequently or is more severe in people with weakened immune systems—such as those infected with HIV—than in people with healthy immune systems. To learn more about opportunistic infections, read the AIDSinfo What is an Opportunistic Infection? fact sheet.
Valganciclovir hydrochloride can also be used “off-label” to prevent and treat other opportunistic infections of HIV infection. “Off-label” use refers to use of an FDA-approved medicine in a manner different from that described on the medicine label. Good medical practice and the best interests of a patient sometimes require that a medicine be used “off-label.”
What HIV-related opportunistic infections is valganciclovir hydrochloride used for?
The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents, prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA-HIVMA), includes recommendations on the HIV-related uses of valganciclovir hydrochloride to:
- CMV retinitis.
- Other types of CMV disease, including CMV colitis (infection and inflammation of the large intestine/colon) and CMV esophagitis (infection and inflammation of the esophagus). (This is an “off-label” use.)
- Certain human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) diseases, including multicentric Castleman’s disease (a disease of the lymph nodes). (This is an “off-label” use.)
The above list may not include all of the HIV-related uses of valganciclovir hydrochloride recommended in the Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents
. Some recommended uses, such as uses in certain rare circumstances, may have been omitted.
What should I tell my health care provider before taking valganciclovir hydrochloride?
Before taking valganciclovir hydrochloride, tell your health care provider:
- If you are allergic to valganciclovir hydrochloride or any other medicines.
- About any medical conditions you have or have had, for example, diabetes or liver problems.
- If you are receiving hemodialysis.
- If you are having radiation treatment.
- About anything that could affect your ability to take medicines, such as difficulty swallowing or remembering to take pills.
- If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Valganciclovir hydrochloride may cause birth defects. Talk to your health care provider about possible risks with taking valganciclovir hydrochloride when pregnant.
- If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you are infected with HIV.
- About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Valganciclovir hydrochloride may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how valganciclovir hydrochloride works. Ask your health care provider if there are interactions between valganciclovir hydrochloride and the other medicines you take.
Ask your health care provider about possible side effects from valganciclovir hydrochloride. Your health care provider will tell you what to do if you have side effects.
How should I take valganciclovir hydrochloride?
Take valganciclovir hydrochloride according to your health care provider’s instructions. Your health care provider will tell you how much valganciclovir hydrochloride to take and when to take it. Before you start valganciclovir hydrochloride and each time you get a refill, read any printed information that comes with your medicine.
How should valganciclovir hydrochloride be stored?
- Store valganciclovir hydrochloride tablets at room temperature, 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C).
- Store valganciclovir hydrochloride oral solution in the refrigerator, between 36°F and 46°F (2°C and 8°C), for no longer than 49 days. Do not freeze the oral solution. (An oral solution is a mixture of a medicine and a liquid that can be taken by mouth.)
- Do not use valganciclovir hydrochloride if the original seal over the container opening is broken or missing.
- Throw away valganciclovir hydrochloride that is no longer needed or expired (out of date). Follow FDA guidelines on how to safely dispose of unused medicine.
- Keep valganciclovir hydrochloride and all medicines out of reach of children.
Where can I find more information about valganciclovir hydrochloride?
More information about valganciclovir hydrochloride is available:
Last Reviewed: September 23, 2016