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An Overview of Ganciclovir (Cytovene, Vitrasert)

November 14, 2012

Other Names: Cytovene IV, Vitrasert, ganciclovir implant, ganciclovir sodium

What is ganciclovir?

Ganciclovir 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 individuals with AIDS. Ganciclovir is also FDA-approved for the prevention of cytomegalovirus (CMV) disease in transplant recipients at risk for CMV diseases.

CMV diseases, including that affecting the eye (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.

Ganciclovir 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 ganciclovir used for?

The Guidelines for Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents, prepared by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), includes recommendations on the HIV-related uses of ganciclovir to:

What should I tell my health care provider before taking ganciclovir?

Before taking ganciclovir, tell your health care provider:

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

How should I take ganciclovir?

Take ganciclovir according to your health care provider's instructions. Your health care provider will tell you how much ganciclovir to take and when to take it. Before you start ganciclovir and each time you get a refill, read any printed information that comes with your medicine.

How should ganciclovir be stored?

Where can I find more information about ganciclovir?

More information about ganciclovir is available:

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