Valcyte (generically known as valganciclovir) is an antiviral medication prescribed to treat and prevent cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection. It is particularly used in patients with weakened immune systems, such as those who have had an organ transplant. It is used to prevent CMV disease in patients who have undergone heart, kidney, or kidney-pancreas transplant.
Valcyte works by slowing the growth of the CMV virus and helping to prevent the spread of infection to other parts of the body. Valcyte is a synthetic analog of 2’-deoxyguanosine that inhibits cytomegalovirus replication in cell culture and in vivo. It helps to suppress viral DNA synthesis by ganciclovir triphosphate.
Uses and Dosage
Valcyte is available in the form of tablets, which should be taken by mouth with food, usually 1 to 2 times a day or as directed by a healthcare provider. Swallow the tablets whole and do not crush or break them. Wash your hands well after handling the tablets and avoid contact with broken or crushed tablets as well as breathing in the dust from the tablets. If contact should occur, wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and water.
The dosage and length of treatment with Valcyte will depend on a patient’s medical condition, particularly kidney function, with children’s dosages based on their body size. The typical dose is to take 900 mg by mouth twice daily for 3 weeks. After that, your provider will typically lower your dose to 900 mg by mouth once daily. A healthcare provider will monitor the patient’s height and weight to ensure the dosage is appropriate.
To get the best results, Valcyte should be taken at evenly spaced intervals. Patients should take it at the same time(s) each day to help them remember. Continue taking Valcyte exactly as prescribed by a healthcare provider and do not change the dose or stop taking it even for a brief time unless directed to do so. Changing or skipping the dose without approval from a healthcare provider may increase the risk of side effects or worsen the infection.
Common Side Effects of Valcyte (Valganciclovir):
- Loss of balance or coordination
- Stomach upset
Serious Side Effects of Valcyte (Valganciclovir):
- Change in urine output
- Mental or mood changes
Form and Strength
Valcyte (Valganciclovir) is available in the following forms and strength:
- 450 mg
- Hematologic toxicity, including bone marrow suppression, has been reported with Valcyte use. Regular blood tests are necessary to monitor blood cell counts.
- Valganciclovir can impair fertility in males and females. Use effective contraception during treatment with Valcyte.
- Valganciclovir is teratogenic and can cause harm to a developing fetus. Use effective contraception during treatment and to avoid pregnancy for at least 30 days after the last dose of Valcyte.
- Valcyte can cause serious kidney problems, especially in patients with a history of kidney disease or when used with other medications that can affect kidney function.
- Valcyte can cause seizures, especially in patients with kidney problems and in those taking certain medications such as ganciclovir or foscarnet.
- Valcyte has been associated with gastrointestinal disorders such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, and patients should inform their doctor if they experience these symptoms.
- Valcyte can cause dizziness and confusion in some patients, avoid driving or operating heavy machinery until the patient knows how the medication affects them.
- Valcyte can cause anemia, low platelet count, and other blood disorders, so patients should monitor their symptoms and inform their doctor if they experience shortness of breath, unusual bleeding or bruising, or signs of infection.
- Valcyte can cause significant interactions with other medications, especially those that affect the same or related metabolic pathways, so patients should inform their doctor of all medications they are taking, even if they are non-prescription or herbal remedies.
- Valcyte can cause serious allergic reactions in some patients, including symptoms such as rash, swelling, and difficulty breathing, and patients should seek immediate medical attention if they experience these symptoms.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can I take valganciclovir on an empty stomach?
Take Valganciclovir during or immediately after a meal. If you take this medicine on an empty stomach, it may not work as well. Take your medicine at about the same time each day.
How long do you take valcyte?
The usual dose of valcyte is two tablets taken twice a day for 21 days (three weeks). Do not take this dose for more than 21 days unless your doctor tells you to, as this may increase your risk of possible side effects.
What happens when you stop taking valganciclovir?
Do not stop taking valganciclovir without talking to your doctor. Stopping to take valganciclovir too soon may cause the amount of CMV in your blood to increase or the virus to become resistant to this medication.
Is Valcyte safe?
Valcyte can affect the bone marrow lowering the amount of your white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets and may cause serious and life-threatening problems.