What is GANCICLOVIR SODIUM?
(GANCICLOVIR SODIUM) Ganciclovir is an anti-viral drug. It is used to prevent disease caused by a virus called cytomegalovirus (CMV) in people who have received organ or bone marrow transplants. CMV disease can lead to serious infections in the body, including an infection in the eye, called CMV retinitis, that can cause blindness. Ganciclovir is also used to treat people with weakened immune systems (including people with AIDS) who have CMV retinitis. Ganciclovir works by slowing the growth of the CMV virus. It helps control CMV retinitis and decrease the risk of blindness. It also helps prevent the spread of infection to other areas of the body. Ganciclovir is not a cure for CMV disease. Some people may have worsening CMV retinitis even with treatment. It is important to have your eyes checked regularly by your doctor.
How should I use GANCICLOVIR SODIUM?
This medication is given by injection into a vein usually over a 1-hour period. Do not give this medication any faster than prescribed because doing so will increase the risk of side effects. At the start of treatment, ganciclovir is usually given every 12 hours for the first few weeks, and then once a day either 5 or 7 times a week after that, or as directed by your doctor. Drink plenty of fluids while using this medication unless your doctor directs you otherwise. If you are using this medication at home, learn all preparation and usage instructions from your health care professional. Before using, check this product visually for particles or discoloration. If either is present, do not use the liquid. Wear gloves when you handle this medication. Avoid direct contact with the liquid. Avoid getting it on your skin or in your mucous membranes, including your mouth, nose, and eyes. If contact should occur, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. If this medication gets in your eyes, rinse them thoroughly with plain water. Learn how to store and discard needles and medical supplies safely. Special disposal is required for this medication and all injection supplies used with it. Consult your pharmacist for more information. The dosage and length of treatment is based on your weight, medical condition, and response to treatment. This medication works best when the amount of drug in your body is kept at a constant level. Use this drug at evenly spaced intervals. To help you remember, use it at the same time(s) each day. Continue using this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not skip any doses or stop using this medication even for a short time unless directed to do so by your doctor. Skipping or stopping treatment without approval from your doctor may make the infection worse. Keep all medical and laboratory appointments. Tell your doctor if your condition worsens (such as worsening vision).
What should I tell my health care provider before I take GANCICLOVIR SODIUM?
Before using ganciclovir, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to valganciclovir or acyclovir; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details. Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: kidney problems, a low number of blood cells (red or white blood cells, platelets), radiation treatment. This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy or make it harder for you to think clearly. Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can worsen these effects. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness until you can do it safely. Limit alcoholic beverages. Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana (cannabis). Ganciclovir can make you more likely to get infections or may worsen any current infections. Avoid contact with people who have infections that may spread to others (such as chickenpox, measles, flu). Consult your doctor if you have been exposed to an infection or for more details. Tell your health care professional that you are using ganciclovir before having any immunizations/vaccinations. Avoid contact with people who have recently received live vaccines (such as flu vaccine inhaled through the nose). To lower the chance of getting cut, bruised, or injured, use caution with sharp objects like razors and nail cutters, and avoid activities such as contact sports. Older adults may be at greater risk for kidney problems while using this drug. Women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not handle this medication. During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. It may harm an unborn baby. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. Women of child-bearing age should have a pregnancy test before starting this medication. To prevent pregnancy, men with female partners should always use effective barrier protection (such as latex or polyurethane condoms) during all sexual activity during treatment and for at least 90 days after stopping the medication. Women of child-bearing age who are using ganciclovir should use reliable forms of birth control (such as birth control pills and condoms) during treatment and for at least 30 days after stopping the medication. Consult your doctor for more details. It is unknown if this medication passes into breast milk. Because of the possible risk to the infant, breast-feeding while using this drug is not recommended. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding. If you have HIV, do not breast-feed because breast milk can transmit HIV.
What may interact with GANCICLOVIR SODIUM?
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval. Some products that may interact with this drug include: didanosine, imipenem/cilastatin. You may be taking other drugs that decrease bone marrow function and lower your number of blood cells (such as cancer chemotherapy, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, zidovudine) or other drugs that may cause kidney problems (such as cyclosporine). Your doctor or pharmacist will monitor you closely and adjust your medications to decrease your risk of serious side effects. Ganciclovir is very similar to valganciclovir. Do not use medications containing valganciclovir while using ganciclovir.
What should I watch for while using GANCICLOVIR SODIUM?
Ganciclovir can decrease bone marrow function. This serious, possibly life-threatening side effect may lead to a low number of blood cells such as red cells, white cells, and platelets. This effect can cause anemia, decrease your body's ability to fight an infection, and cause bleeding problems. Your doctor will check the results of your blood tests and adjust your treatment to reduce your risk for these side effects. Seek immediate medical attention if you develop signs of anemia (such as unusual tiredness, fast breathing, pale skin, fast heartbeat), signs of infection (such as fever, chills, cough, persistent sore throat), and signs of bleeding (such as easy bruising/bleeding, nose bleeds, bleeding gums, bloody/black/tarry stools, vomit that looks like coffee grounds). Ganciclovir may reduce fertility in men and women. It may also harm an unborn baby. Talk to your doctor for more details. Ganciclovir has caused tumors in laboratory animals. Although there is no information in humans, ganciclovir should be considered cancer-causing (carcinogenic). See also How to Use and Precautions sections.
What if I miss a dose of GANCICLOVIR SODIUM?
If you miss a dose, use it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose. Use your next dose at the regular time. Do not double the dose to catch up.
What side effects may I notice from receiving GANCICLOVIR SODIUM?
See also Warning section. Diarrhea, upset stomach, dizziness, drowsiness, unsteadiness, shaking (tremors), or pain/redness/irritation at the injection site may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly. Remember that this medication has been prescribed because your doctor has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects. Tell your doctor right away if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: mental/mood changes (such as confusion, hallucinations), signs of kidney problems (such as change in the amount of urine), seizures. A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing. This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist. In the US - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch. In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Where should I keep GANCICLOVIR SODIUM?
Consult the product instructions and your pharmacist for storage details. Keep all medications away from children and pets. Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.