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What does it do?

Ganciclovir is used to treat and prevent viral infections caused by cytomegalovirus (CMV).

Before you start

  • Tell your doctor if you have blood or kidney problems or have ever had a seizure.
  • Ganciclovir is not recommended during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Women receiving ganciclovir should use effective contraception (eg oral contraceptive pill or condoms) during treatment. Men receiving ganciclovir should use barrier contraception (eg condoms) during the course of ganciclovir and for 3 months afterwards.
  • Ganciclovir can affect fertility in both men and women – discuss with your doctor.

How is it given?

Ganciclovir is given as a slow infusion into a vein.

What if you forget a dose?

Ganciclovir will be given to you by a health professional. If you are unable to attend an appointment, contact your health professional as soon as possible.

Can you take other medicines?

Some medicines available without a prescription may react with ganciclovir including:

  • trimethoprim

Tell your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines or treatments that you may be taking, including vitamins, herbal products or recreational drugs.

What side effects might you notice?

Side EffectsRecommended action

Symptoms of allergy including: skin rash, itching, swelling, trouble breathing

Reduced number of blood cells that fight infections or help your blood to clot - symptoms include: fever, chills, sore throat or generally feeling unwell, or easy or unusual bruising or bleeding

Changes in vision


Tell your doctor immediately

Unusual behaviour or thinking

Confusion, drowsiness or weakness

Tiredness, dizziness, pale skin

Tell your doctor

Numbness or tingling of the fingers or toes

Headache, trouble sleeping, tremor

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite

Irritation or pain at injection site

Tell your doctor if troublesome

If you notice any other effects, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Other information:

  • You will need regular blood tests while taking ganciclovir to monitor its effects on your blood and kidneys.

This leaflet contains important, but not all, information about this medicine.

Prepared by the MyMedicines Committee at Christchurch Hospital, Te Whatu Ora - Waitaha, New Zealand. March 2023

For more general information about this sheet and its contents, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

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About My Medicines

My Medicines Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) contain important, but not all, information about the medicines they describe.

For more information about the sheets, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

My Medicines is developed by a team at Te Whatu Ora – Waitaha. Our team is made up of doctors, pharmacists, and a non-medical person to help us keep to plain language. We also discuss our information with specialist health professionals or groups when needed