Ganciclovir (Systemic)

Adult Medication

Brand Names: US


Brand Names: Canada

Cytovene; Ganciclovir for Injection


  • Very bad and sometimes life-threatening blood and bone marrow problems like anemia, low platelet counts, or low white blood cell counts have happened with this drug. Change in dose or even stopping the drug may be needed if any of these side effects happen. Talk with the doctor.
  • This drug has caused cancer, fertility problems in males and females that could be long-lasting, and harm to unborn babies in animals. This drug may have the same effects in humans. Talk with the doctor.

What is this drug used for?

  • It is used to treat a viral infection of the eyes in people with immune system problems.
  • It is used to prevent cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease after organ transplant.
  • It may be given to you for other reasons. Talk with the doctor.

What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take this drug?

  • If you have an allergy to ganciclovir or any other part of this drug.
  • If you are allergic to any drugs like this one, any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.
  • If you have any of these health problems: Low white blood cell count or low platelet count.
  • If you are pregnant or may be pregnant. Do not take this drug if you are pregnant.
  • If you are breast-feeding. Do not breast-feed while you take this drug. You may also need to avoid breast-feeding for some time after your last dose. Talk with your doctor to see if you need to avoid breast-feeding after your last dose.
This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with this drug.
Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take this drug with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take this drug?

For all uses of this drug:

  • Tell all of your health care providers that you take this drug. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
  • You may have more chance of getting an infection. Wash hands often. Stay away from people with infections, colds, or flu.
  • You may bleed more easily. Be careful and avoid injury. Use a soft toothbrush and an electric razor.
  • Holes in the GI (gastrointestinal) tract, organ failure, pancreas irritation (pancreatitis), and a very bad blood infection (sepsis) have happened with this drug. These health problems could be deadly. Talk with the doctor.
  • Use with care in children. Talk with the doctor.
  • If you are 65 or older, use this drug with care. You could have more side effects.
  • If you are a man and have sex with a female who could get pregnant, protect her from pregnancy during care and for 3 months after care ends. Use a condom.
  • If you are a man and your sex partner gets pregnant while you take this drug or within 3 months after your last dose, call your doctor right away.
  • This drug may cause harm to the unborn baby if you take it while you are pregnant.
  • Use birth control that you can trust to prevent pregnancy while taking this drug.
  • If you are pregnant or you get pregnant while taking this drug, call your doctor right away.

For CMV infection:

  • This drug is not a cure for CMV infections of the eye. Stay under the care of your doctor.
  • Have an eye exam as you have been told by your doctor.

What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:
  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Signs of infection like fever, chills, very bad sore throat, ear or sinus pain, cough, more sputum or change in color of sputum, pain with passing urine, mouth sores, or wound that will not heal.
  • Signs of bleeding like throwing up blood or throw up that looks like coffee grounds; coughing up blood; blood in the urine; black, red, or tarry stools; bleeding from the gums; vaginal bleeding that is not normal; bruises without a reason or that get bigger; or any bleeding that is very bad or that you cannot stop.
  • Signs of high blood pressure like very bad headache or dizziness, passing out, or change in eyesight.
  • Signs of kidney problems like unable to pass urine, change in how much urine is passed, blood in the urine, or a big weight gain.
  • Signs of a pancreas problem (pancreatitis) like very bad stomach pain, very bad back pain, or very bad upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Feeling very tired or weak.
  • Sweating a lot.
  • Feeling confused.
  • Anxiety.
  • Low mood (depression).
  • Seizures.
  • Shakiness.
  • A burning, numbness, or tingling feeling that is not normal.
  • Very bad belly pain.
  • Swollen belly.
  • Change in eyesight.
  • Chest pain.
  • Swelling.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Ringing in ears.
  • Pain and irritation where this drug goes into the body.

What are some other side effects of this drug?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:
  • Dizziness.
  • Feeling sleepy.
  • Not hungry.
  • Upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Loose stools (diarrhea).
  • Feeling tired or weak.
  • Headache.
  • Hard stools (constipation).
  • Strange or odd dreams.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Not able to sleep.
  • Hair loss.
  • Dry skin.
  • Change in taste.
  • Weight loss.
  • Muscle or joint pain.
  • Leg cramps.
These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
You may report side effects to your national health agency.

How is this drug best taken?

Use this drug as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.
  • It is given as an infusion into a vein over a period of time.
  • Drink lots of noncaffeine liquids unless told to drink less liquid by your doctor.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Call your doctor to find out what to do.

How do I store and/or throw out this drug?

  • If you need to store this drug at home, talk with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist about how to store it.

General drug facts

  • If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
  • Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else’s drugs.
  • Keep a list of all your drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your doctor.
  • Talk with the doctor before starting any new drug, including prescription or OTC, natural products, or vitamins.
  • Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to throw out unused drugs.
  • Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. If you have any questions about this drug, please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from the healthcare provider. You must talk with the healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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