The following information is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your physician, pharmacist or other healthcare professional. It should not be construed to indicate that use of the drug is safe, appropriate, or effective for you. Consult your healthcare professional before using this drug.
COMMON BRAND NAME(S): Valcyte
WARNING: This drug is changed in the body to its active form (ganciclovir), which may cause severe blood side effects (e.g., low platelets, low blood cell counts). Notify your doctor immediately if you develop unusual fatigue, easy bruising or bleeding, or signs of an infection such as persistent fever or sore throat.
Valganciclovir is an antiviral medication used to treat people with immune system problems (e.g., AIDS) who have a serious eye infection (cytomegalovirus or "CMV" retinitis). Valganciclovir is also used to prevent CMV disease in certain transplant patients (i.e., kidney-pancreas, heart). This medication is not a cure for CMV retinitis.
How To Use
This medication is taken by mouth usually once or twice daily with food, or as directed by your doctor. The dosage and frequency is based on your medical condition and response to therapy. This medication must be swallowed whole. Do not crush or chew this drug. Avoid skin or eye contact with any powder from broken or crushed doses because it may be harmful. Should skin contact with any of the powder occur, wash with plenty of soap and water. If eye contact occurs, rinse the eyes well with water. Do not take more or less of this drug than prescribed, or stop taking it (or other HIV-related medicine), even for a brief time, unless directed to do so by your doctor. This may cause the amount of virus to increase, may make the virus more difficult to treat, or may cause side effects to worsen. This medication works best when the amount of drug in your body is kept at a constant level. Therefore, take this drug at evenly spaced intervals.
Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, dizziness, headache, or trouble sleeping may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, notify your doctor promptly. Tell your doctor immediately if any of these serious side effects occur: stomach pain, fever, easy bleeding or bruising, persistent sore throat, chills, unusual weakness and fatigue, tingling or numbness of the hands or feet. Tell your doctor immediately if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: severe bleeding, loss of vision, change in amount of urine, seizures, mental/mood changes, unusual or severe swelling. An allergic reaction to this drug is unlikely, but seek immediate medical attention if it occurs. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include: rash, itching, swelling, dizziness, trouble breathing. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
Tell your doctor your medical history, especially of: kidney problems, radiation treatments, blood disorders (e.g., low platelets, low blood cell counts), any allergies (especially to acyclovir or ganciclovir). This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy; use caution engaging in activities requiring alertness such as driving or using machinery. Limit alcoholic beverages. Because this medication can lower your body's ability to fight an infection, do not touch your eyes or the inside of your nose without first washing your hands. Do not have immunizations/vaccinations without the consent of your doctor and avoid contact with people who have recently received live vaccines (e.g., oral polio vaccine). Use caution with sharp objects like safety razors or nail cutters and avoid activities such as contact sports to lower the chance of getting cut, bruised, or injured. Caution is advised when using this drug in the elderly since they may be more sensitive to the drugs effects. This medication is not recommended for use during pregnancy. Consult your doctor for more details and to discuss reliable forms of birth control. It is recommended that men and women use birth control measures while taking this medication since valganciclovir may cause fetal harm. It is recommended that men use a latex condom during sexual activity while being treated with this medication and for at least 90 days (3 months) after they stop taking it. It is not known if this medication passes into breast milk. However, mothers should not breastfeed infants while on this medication due to valganciclovir's potential for serious side effects.
Tell your doctor of all prescription and nonprescription medication you may use, especially: drugs that may impair the immune system (such as anti-cancer drugs or corticosteroids like prednisone), certain other HIV-related medications (e.g., didanosine, zalcitabine, zidovudine), probenecid, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, mycophenolate, dapsone, imipenem-cilastatin, pentamidine. Tell your doctor if you currently take, or have ever taken ganciclovir. Do not substitute or interchange ganciclovir with valganciclovir; overdose may occur. Do not start or stop any medicine without doctor or pharmacist approval.
If overdose is suspected, contact your local poison control center or emergency room immediately. Symptoms of overdose may include: uncontrolled muscle movements, yellowing eyes or skin, dark urine, red-colored/bloody urine.
Do not share this medication with others. This medication is not a cure for CMV infections, so symptoms may continue or return. Consult your doctor. Regular eye exams are recommended to evaluate the effectiveness of this therapy.
It is very important that you take this medication exactly as instructed. However, if you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Store at room temperature between 59 and 86 degrees F (15 to 30 degrees C) away from heat and moisture.
Your condition can cause complications in a medical emergency. For enrollment information call MedicAlert at 1-800-854-1166 (USA), or 1-800-668-1507 (Canada).