Valcyte

Generic Name: Valganciclovir

  • What is Valcyte?

    Valcyte is an antiviral medicine used to treat cytomegalovirus (CMV) retinitis in people with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). CMV is an infection caused by a herpes virus called cytomegalovirus. When CMV infects the eyes, it is called CMV retinitis and may cause blindness if not treated. Valcyte slows the growth of the CMV virus in your body and may prevent it from spreading to healthy cells.

    In addition, Valcyte is used to prevent CMV in adults who have received a heart, kidney, or kidney-pancreas transplant and in children who have received a kidney or heart transplant from another patient infected with CMV.

  • What is the most important information I should know about Valcyte?

    Valcyte can affect your blood cells and bone marrow, which may cause serious and life-threatening problems. Valcyte can lower the amount of your white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Your doctor may do regular blood tests to check your blood cells while you are taking Valcyte. Based on these tests, the doctor may change your dose or tell you to stop taking this drug.

    Valcyte causes cancer in animals. It is not known if Valcyte causes cancer in people.

    Valcyte may cause birth defects, so it should not be taken during pregnancy. Tell your doctor immediately if you become pregnant while taking this drug. If you are of childbearing age, you should use effective birth control while using Valcyte. Men should use a condom during Valcyte treatment and 90 days after discontinuing treatment. Valcyte can lower the number of sperm in a man's body and may lead to fertility problems.

    Valcyte changes into the medicine ganciclovir once it is in your body. You should not take other medicines that contain ganciclovir or valganciclovir while using Valcyte. In addition, Valcyte cannot be substituted for another drug that contains ganciclovir, since the dose of medicine is different.

  • Who should not take Valcyte?

    You should not take Valcyte if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, receiving hemodialysis, allergic to any component of the drug, or if you have ever had any reaction or sensitivity to a similar product such as ganciclovir.

  • What should I tell my doctor before I take the first dose of Valcyte?

    Mention all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with Valcyte. Also, talk to your doctor about your complete medical history, especially if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, are breastfeeding, have kidney or blood cell problems, or if you are undergoing radiation treatment or chemotherapy. If you have kidney problems or are over the age of 65, your doctor may give you a lower than usual dose of Valcyte.

  • What is the usual dosage?

    The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your doctor uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your doctor may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your doctor's approval.

    CMV Retinitis

    Adults: The usual dosage is 900 milligrams (mg) taken twice a day for 21 days, then 900 mg taken once daily for maintenance.

    Prevention of CMV Disease

    Adults (>16 years): For recipients of heart, kidney, or kidney-pancreas transplant, the usual dosage is 900 mg taken once daily starting within 10 days of the transplant, and continuing until 100 days after the transplant.

    Children (4 months to 16 years): For recipients of heart or kidney transplant, the appropriate dose is determined by your doctor using parameters called body surface area and creatinine clearance and is given once daily starting within 10 days of the transplant, and continuing until 100 days after the transplant.

  • How should I take Valcyte?

    Valcyte should be taken with food at the same time every day to maximize absorption. Do not break or crush the tablets. If your skin comes in contact with a broken tablet, wash the area immediately.

    Do not let your supply of Valcyte run out. Not taking Valcyte for even a short period of time may lead to an increase of the virus in your body.

    Do not substitute Valcyte tablets for ganciclovir capsules.

  • What should I avoid while taking Valcyte?

    You should not become pregnant or breastfeed while taking Valcyte. Men who take Valcyte should not get a partner pregnant during therapy or for 90 days after stopping the drug.

    Do not operate heavy machinery or drive a car until you know how Valcyte will affect you.

  • What are possible food and drug interactions associated with Valcyte?

    If Valcyte is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Valcyte with the following: cytovene, didanosine, ganciclovir, mycophenolate, probenecid, or zidovudine.

  • What are the possible side effects of Valcyte?

    Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this drug.

    Side effects may include: back pain, seizures, sleepiness, dizziness, constipation, diarrhea, fever, graft rejection, headache, high blood pressure, kidney problems, nausea, shaky movements (tremors), stomach pain, swelling of the legs, trouble sleeping, vomiting

  • Can I receive Valcyte if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

    No. Valcyte may harm your baby and should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

  • What should I do if I miss a dose of Valcyte?

    Take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the one you missed and return to your normal dosing schedule. Do not double your doses.

  • How should I store Valcyte?

    Valcyte tablets should be stored at room temperature. Valcyte solution (liquid) should be stored in a refrigerator for no more than 49 days.

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I'm Beth Isaac, PharmD. Welcome to PDR Health!

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