What is valganciclovir?
Valganciclovir is an antiviral drug. It works by preventing viral cells from multiplying in your body. Valganciclovir will not cure CMV but it can help control the infection.
Valganciclovir treats cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection of the eye in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Valganciclovir also prevents CMV infection in patients who have received an organ transplant (kidney, heart, or kidney-pancreas).
Valganciclovir may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.
Your doctor may have switched you from ganciclovir (Cytovene) to valganciclovir (Valcyte). Be aware that the strength of these two medications is different. A valganciclovir tablet contains more medicine than a ganciclovir capsule. You may not need to use as many valganciclovir tablets as you did ganciclovir capsules. To avoid overdosage, take only as many valganciclovir tablets as your doctor has prescribed. An overdose of this medication can cause serious illness.
Before taking this medication, tell your doctor if you have:
- kidney disease,
- liver disease, or
- a blood cell disorder (such as anemia).
Tell your doctor if you are on hemodialysis or if you have recently had a radiation treatment.
Valganciclovir is in the FDA pregnancy category C. This means that it is not known if it will be harmful to an unborn baby. A similar drug called ganciclovir (Cytovene) did cause birth defects in animal studies. Using valganciclovir while you are pregnant could also cause harm to the unborn baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are pregnant. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.
If a man fathers a child while using valganciclovir, the baby may have birth defects. Use a condom to prevent pregnancy during your treatment. Continue using condoms for at least 90 days after you stop using valganciclovir.
This medication can affect fertility (your ability to have children), whether you are a man or a woman.
You should not breast-feed while you are using valganciclovir. It is not known if this medication passes into breast milk. If you have HIV or AIDS, you should not breast-feed at all. Even if your baby is born without HIV, you may still pass the virus to the baby in your breast milk.
Valganciclovir may cause cancer. Talk to your doctor about your individual risk.
If you have AIDS, follow your doctor’s instructions with respect to high-risk activities such as unprotected sex and the sharing of needles.
Use birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using valganciclovir, whether you are a man or a woman. Valganciclovir use by either parent can cause birth defects. If you are a man, use a condom to keep from causing a pregnancy while you are taking valganciclovir. Continue using condoms for at least 90 days after you stop taking valganciclovir.
Valganciclovir can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.
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Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this medicine.
Symptoms of a valganciclovir overdose may include seizure (convulsions), kidney failure (urinating more or less than usual, blood in the urine, swelling or numbness in your hands or feet, pain in your lower back or sides), or signs of liver damage (yellowing of the skin or eyes, severe and sudden stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting).
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and take only the next regularly scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
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Stop taking valganciclovir and seek emergency medical attention or contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following serious side effects:
- an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives);
- easy bruising, unusual bleeding;
- numbness or tingling in a part of the body;
- signs of infection (fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms); or
- seizure (convulsions).
Other, less serious side effects may be more likely to occur. Continue to take valganciclovir and talk to your doctor if you experience:
- mild nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain;
- sleepiness or dizziness;
- weakness, lack of coordination;
- tremor (uncontrolled shaking); or
- sleep problems (insomnia).
Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
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Valganciclovir (Valcyte) and ganciclovir (Cytovene) must never be taken together.
Before taking valganciclovir, talk to your doctor if you are using any of the following drugs:
- zidovudine (Retrovir, AZT);
- didanosine (Videx, ddI);
- mycophenolate (CellCept);
- drugs that weaken your immune system (such as cancer medicine or steroids); or
- probenecid (Benemid, Probalan).
If you are using any of these drugs, you may not be able to take valganciclovir, or you may require a dosage adjustment or special monitoring.
There may be other drugs not listed that can affect valganciclovir. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.
Valcyte and valganciclovir
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