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All about: Valcyte

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Generic Name: valganciclovir ( val gan SYE kloe veer)
Brand Names: Valcyte

What is Valcyte (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.

What is the most important information I should know about Valcyte (valganciclovir)?

Valganciclovir (Valcyte) and ganciclovir (Cytovene) must never be taken together. If your doctor switched you from ganciclovir (Cytovene) to valganciclovir (Valcyte), the number of pills you use each day may change. To avoid overdosage, take only as many valganciclovir tablets as your doctor has prescribed. Using valganciclovir while you are pregnant may cause harm to the unborn baby. If a man fathers a child while using this medication, the baby may have birth defects. Use an effective form of birth control while you are using valganciclovir. If you are a man, use a condom to prevent pregnancy during your treatment. Continue using condoms for at least 90 days after you stop using valganciclovir. Do not use a tablet that has been accidentally broken. The medicine from a crushed or broken tablet can be dangerous if it gets in your eyes, mouth, or nose, or on your skin. If you must handle a broken tablet, ask your doctor or pharmacist how to handle and dispose of the tablet safely.

Valganciclovir can lower the blood cells in your body that control bleeding and help you fight infection. Your blood will need to be tested on a regular basis. It is important that you not miss any scheduled visits to your doctor. Contact your doctor right away if you have any bleeding or signs of infection (fever, chills, body aches, or flu symptoms).

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking Valcyte (valganciclovir)?

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.

How should I take Valcyte (valganciclovir)?

Valganciclovir should be used exactly as your doctor has prescribed it for you. Do not use more of the medication than recommended. Do not take the medication for longer than your doctor has prescribed.

Take each dose with a full glass of water. Take valganciclovir with food. Take this medication for as many days as it has been prescribed for you even if you begin to feel better. Your symptoms may start to improve before the infection is completely treated.

It is very important to take this medicine at the same time each day. To best treat your condition, you should not miss any doses.

Do not crush or break a valganciclovir tablet. Do not use a tablet that has been accidentally broken. The medicine from a broken tablet can be dangerous if it gets in your eyes, mouth, or nose, or on your skin. If skin contact occurs, wash the area with soap and water or rinse the eyes thoroughly with plain water. If you must handle a broken tablet, ask your doctor or pharmacist how to dispose of the tablet safely.

You should have your eyes checked at least every 4 to 6 weeks while you are using valganciclovir. Your doctor may want you to have eye exams more often.

Valganciclovir can lower the blood cells in your body that help you fight infections. This can make it easier for you to bleed from an injury or get sick from being around others who are ill. To be sure your blood cells do not get too low, your blood will need to be tested on a regular basis. It is important that you not miss any scheduled visits to your doctor.

Store valganciclovir at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

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.

What happens if I overdose?

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).

What should I avoid while taking Valcyte (valganciclovir)?

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.

Valcyte (valganciclovir) side effects

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;

  • headache;

  • sleepiness or dizziness;

  • weakness, lack of coordination;

  • confusion;

  • 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.

What other drugs will affect Valcyte (valganciclovir)?

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.

Where can I get more information?/

  • Your pharmacist has additional information about valganciclovir written for health professionals that you may read.

What does my medication look like?

Valganciclovir is available with a prescription under the brand name Valcyte. Other brand or generic formulations may also be available. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about this medication, especially if it is new to you.

  • Valcyte 450 mg--pink oval tablets

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2006 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 3.02. Revision Date: 12/16/05 3:07:54 PM.

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