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Varicella Zoster Immune Globulin (Human)

Varicella Zoster Immune Globulin (Human)

Brand Name: VariZIG Other Names: varicella zoster immune globulin Drug Class: Opportunistic Infections and Coinfections
What is VariZIG?

What is VariZIG?

VariZIG is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lessen the severity of varicella zoster virus (VZV) infection (chicken pox) in people who are at high-risk of infection when exposed to the virus. (This use of VariZIG is called post-exposure prophylaxis [PEP]). People at high risk of VZV infection include pregnant women, premature infants, and children and adults who are immunocompromised. (Immunocompromised means a person’s immune system cannot fight infections normally.) 

VariZIG is made from blood plasma of healthy, screened human donors. Plasma is the fluid part of the blood that contains water, salts, enzymes, antibodies (a type of protein that the immune system makes), and other proteins. VariZIG contains high levels of antibodies that can fight against VZV.

VZV infection is an opportunistic infection of HIV. 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.

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 use of VariZIG for PEP against VZV infection in HIV-infected individuals.

The above paragraph may not include all of the HIV-related uses of VariZIG 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 receiving VariZIG?

What should I tell my health care provider before receiving VariZIG?

Before receiving VariZIG, tell your health care provider:

  • If you are allergic to VariZIG or any other medicines.
  • If you have ever had an anaphylactic reaction or a severe systemic allergic reaction to human immune globulin preparations.
  • If you are deficient in immunoglobulin A (IgA).
  • About any medical conditions you have or have had, for example, diabetes or liver problems. 
  • About anything that could affect your ability to get medicine by needle injection (a shot).
  • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Whether VariZIG can harm an unborn baby is unknown. VariZIG should be given to a pregnant woman only if clearly needed. Talk to your health care provider about possible risks with taking VariZIG 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. VariZIG may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how VariZIG works. Ask your health care provider if there are interactions between VariZIG and the medicines you take. 

Ask your health care provider about possible side effects from VariZIG. Your health care provider will tell you what to do if you have side effects.

How is VariZIG given?

How is VariZIG given?

VariZIG is given by needle injection (a shot) into a muscle in the upper arm or upper thigh. VariZIG is given as soon as possible after exposure to VZV, ideally within 96 hours of exposure for the greatest effectiveness. A person re-exposed to VZV more than 3 weeks after a first shot of VariZIG may get a second shot of the drug. 

Where can I find more information about VariZIG?

Where can I find more information about VariZIG?

More information about VariZIG is available:

 

The above Patient Version drug summary is based on the following FDA label(s): Injection (sterile solution).

Last Reviewed: May 8, 2017