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Ganciclovir is used in the prevention and treatment of life-threatening or sight-threatening cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections in adults who are immunocompromised (reduced immunity) and in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). It is also used for the treatment of acute herpetic keratitis (inflammation of the cornea of the eye) such as dendritic and geographic ulcers. Ganciclovir is also used in patients undergoing transplant for the prevention of CMV retinitis.

How it works

Ganciclovir is an antiviral drug that belongs to a class called synthetic nucleoside analogues. It works by blocking the viral DNA replication a process essential for the virus to grow and multiply. Ganciclovir thus stops the virus from spreading in the body.

Common side effects

Nausea, Liver enzyme increased, Abdominal pain, Constipation, Diarrhoea, Injection site inflammation, Injection site pain, Decreased white blood cell count, Loss of appetite, Reduced blood platelets, Vomiting


Expert advice

  • Ganciclovir should be preferably taken with food.
  • Ganciclovir is not recommended in children.
  • Do not drive or operate machinery if you experience visual disturbances due to instillation in eyes, or if you experience convulsion, sedation, dizziness, ataxia and/or confusion.
  • Your blood cell counts should be monitored while on treatment with ganciclovir especially if you have kidney disorders.
  • Do not take ganciclovir along with imipenem-cilastatin as it may cause seizures (fits).

Frequently asked questions


Q. Is ganciclovir a vesicant/ antibiotic?
No, ganciclovir is not a vesicant/ an antibiotic.
Q. Is ganciclovir?
Yes, ganciclovir is dialyzable
Q. Is ganciclovir a chemotherapy drug?
Yes, ganciclovir is a chemotherapy used for the treatment of viral infections. Do not confuse it with chemotherapy or chemo drugs used for the treatment of cancer.
Q. Is ganciclovir nephrotoxic?
Yes, ganciclovir is known to have nephrotoxicity (toxic to kidneys).
Q. Is ganciclovir a protease inhibitor?
No, ganciclovir is not a protease inhibitor; it belongs to synthetic nucleoside analogues class of antivirals.
Q. Does ganciclovir cover hsv (hepes simplex virus)?
Yes, ganciclovir may be used to treat hsv (hepes simplex virus).
Q. How does ganciclovir cause myelosuppression?
Ganciclovir is directly toxic to colony forming stem cells inside bone marrow which is responsible for RBCs, WBCs and platelets formation, thereby causing myelosuppression.

Content on this page was last updated on 30 September, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)