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Generic name: ganciclovir (injection)
Brand name: Cytovene
Dosage forms: intravenous powder for injection (500 mg); intravenous solution (2 mg/mL-NaCl 0.8%; 50 mg/mL)
Drug class: Purine nucleosides

Medically reviewed by  A Ras MD.

What is ganciclovir used for?

Ganciclovir is a prescription medicine that is used to treat a viral infection of the eyes.


Ganciclovir is a synthetic guanine derivative active against cytomegalovirus (CMV).

Ganciclovir is available as 250 mg and 500 mg capsules. Each capsule contains 250 mg or 500 mg ganciclovir, USP respectively, and inactive ingredients croscarmellose sodium, FD&C blue #2, gelatin, iron oxide black, iron oxide yellow, lecithin, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, povidone, shellac, simethicone, and titanium dioxide.

Ganciclovir is a white to off-white crystalline powder with a molecular formula of C9H13N504 and a molecular weight of 255.23. The chemical name for ganciclovir is 9-[[2-hydroxy-1-(hydroxymethyl)ethoxy]methyl]guanine. Ganciclovir is a polar hydrophilic compound with a solubility of 2.6 mg/mL in water at 25° C and an n-octanol/water partition coefficient of 0.022. The pKas for ganciclovir are 2.2 and 9.4. The molecular structure of ganciclovir is:


All doses in this insert are specified in terms of ganciclovir.

Before taking ganciclovir, tell your doctor:

  • If you are allergic to ganciclovir; any part of this medicine; or any other drugs, foods, or substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had.

This medicine may interact with other drugs or health problems.

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take ganciclovir with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take ganciclovir?

  • Tell all of your health care providers that you take ganciclovir. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • Use care when driving or doing other tasks that call for clear eyesight.
  • Do not use longer than you have been told. A second infection may happen.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan on getting pregnant, or are breast-feeding. You will need to talk about the benefits and risks to you and the baby.

How is ganciclovir best taken?

Use ganciclovir as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

  • For the eye only.
  • Use as you have been told, even if your signs get better.
  • Wash your hands before and after use.
  • Do not wear contact lenses while using ganciclovir.
  • Do not touch the container tip to the eye, lid, or other skin.
  • Tilt your head back and drop drug into the eye.
  • After use, keep your eyes closed. Put pressure on the inside corner of the eye. Do this for 1 to 2 minutes. This keeps the drug in your eye.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Use a missed dose as soon as you think about it.
  • If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your normal time.
  • Do not use 2 doses at the same time or extra doses.

What are the side effects of ganciclovir that I need to call my doctor about immediately?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Change in eyesight, eye pain, or very bad eye irritation.

What are some other side effects of ganciclovir?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

  • Eye irritation.
  • Blurred eyesight.

These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-332-1088. You may also report side effects at https://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

If overdose is suspected:

If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

How do I store and/or throw out ganciclovir?

  • Store at room temperature. Do not freeze.
  • Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.





250 mg 90’s Label

500 mg 90's Label

500 mg 90’s Label


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