Ganciclovir (Intraocular)

Overview

Ganciclovir is an antiviral medication that is used in an implant that is inserted into the eye during surgery. This implant is used to treat a serious condition called (CMV) cytomegalovirus retinitis in patients who suffer from AIDS. This drug will not cure this eye infection, but it can help to prevent the symptoms from worsening.

After your eye has used up all the medication from the implant (typically within a five to eight month period) the implant is removed via surgery and, at the same time, if required, another implant can be given.

All three elements of this process, the implant containing the medication, the surgery or the medicine itself can cause some serious side effects, including eye infections, the formation of cataract or the detachment of the retina. Before you take this implant, you should discuss with your doctor about the good elements of this medication and process as well as the associated risks.

This medication is only available via prescription from your doctor. This drug is available in the dosage form: implant.

Condition(s) treated?

  • Cytomegalovirus infection of the eye

Type of medicine?

  • Implant

Side Effects

Along with the intended effects of this medication, it can produce some unwanted side effects. Not all of these side effects may occur, but if they do, you may require medical attention.

Studies have also indicated that this drug can cause cancerous tumors in animals. You should discuss with your doctor these possible side effects.

Inform your doctor immediately if you suffer from any of the following side effects whilst taking this drug

More common side effects (these typically occur within the first two months after surgery):

  • Severe decrease in vision

Less common side effects (these typically occur within the first two months after surgery):

  • Blurred vision or other change in vision

Rare side effects (these typically occur within the first two months after surgery):

  • Swelling of the membrane covering the white part of the eye

Some side effects that occur with this drug usually don't require medical attention. This is because they usually begin to reduce or disappear as your body begins adjusting to the medication. However, if you are finding these side effects bothersome, you should contact your local pharmacist or healthcare professional for advice on ways to reduce and prevent these side effects. Inform your doctor or health care professional if any of the following side effects become bothersome or persistent.

More common side effects:

  • A decrease in vision lasting approximately two to four weeks.

Other side effects may appear that are not listed above. You should seek advice from a medical professional if you notice anything unusual. Remember you can report all side effects to the FDA on 1-800-FDA-1088.

Dosage

The final dose of any medication will depend on a number of different factors. These include your age, weight and height, any other medications you are currently taking, other health conditions you suffer from and your reaction to the first dose.

Each Vitrasert implant contains a minimum of 4.5 mg of this drug and it's designed to release the drug over a five to eight month period of time. Once this has finished, the implant can be removed and replaced if necessary.

Since the Vitrasert implant is put into your eye via surgery, you will not be on a specific dosing schedule for this medicine. The implant can be removed and replaced after a five to eight-month period.

Interactions

Interactions between drugs can cause severe side effects as well as reducing the effective nature of either drug you are using. To help limit these interactions, it's important that you give your doctor or healthcare professional a full list of all the current and past medications you are taking. This list should include all prescription and non-prescription drugs, and all herbal products and vitamins. You should also make your doctor aware of any other medical conditions you currently suffer from, including any medical conditions that run in your family history.

The presence of other medical conditions can affect the use of this medication. It's important that you let your doctor or healthcare professional know about any other medical conditions you suffer from, especially:

  • Eye infections

The consumption of some foods, alcohol, and tobacco can also increase your risk of interactions. It's therefore important to discuss with your doctor about the use of this medication alongside eating, drinking and smoking.

Warnings

It's extremely important that your doctor or healthcare professional monitors your progress at regular checkups. This is to ensure that the medication is working as it should be and to spot any issues with the implant, surgery or medication itself. These checkups will also assist the doctor in determining when all of the medication in the implant is used, so it can be removed and replaced if necessary.

You may notice decreased or blurred vision in the eye where the implant has been placed. This can last for two to four weeks after the surgery, and it is expected, so don't be alarmed. You should let your healthcare professional or doctor know if your vision becomes worse or these symptoms last longer than four weeks. You should also let them know if you discover any other changes in your vision as this could be a sign of complications from the surgery.

Allergies You should let your doctor or healthcare professional know if you have ever suffered from an allergic reaction to this medication before, or to similar medications. It's also important to make them aware of any other allergic reactions you may suffer from, such as to animals, foods, dye or preservatives.

Pediatric population There is currently no specific information that compares the use of ganciclovir eye implants in children younger than nine years old against the use in other age groups. Therefore efficacy and safety have not yet been established.

Geriatric population Many medications have not been studied specifically in the older population. Therefore, it is unknown whether they will work exactly the same way they do in younger adults. It's also unknown if they cause different problems or side effects in the older population. There is currently no specific information that compares the use of ganciclovir eye implants in the older population against the use in other age groups.

Use in pregnancy and breastfeeding: This drug is under FDA pregnancy category C. It's unknown whether ganciclovir will harm an unborn child. You should let your doctor or healthcare professional know if you are pregnant, or intend to become pregnant whilst using this medication.

This medication can decrease a man's sperm count and may affect their fertility.

It is unknown whether this drug passes into breast milk or if it could cause harm to a nursing child. You should avoid breastfeeding after you have received a Vitrasert implant.

The Vitrasert implant shouldn't be used in those who suffer from hypersensitivity to acyclovir or ganciclovir and in those who have contraindications for intraocular surgery, such as severe thrombocytopenia or external infection.

Storage

This medication will be stored in a medical setting since it is given via a trained healthcare professional. This medication should be refrigerated until use. This drug should be kept away from moisture, heat and direct light. Do not keep any medication that has expired or is no longer needed. Seek professional advice on the best form of disposal of this medication.

Summary

When used correctly, Ganciclovir Intraocular Vitrasert is successful in the treatment of cytomegalovirus infection of the eye. It's important that you attend all your doctor's appointments to monitor for issues with the medication or surgery. This drug will be given in a medical setting such as a hospital by a trained professional and the medication lasts for around five to eight months before it can be removed or replaced. This drug has not been tested on children or the older population, so therefore safety and efficacy have not yet been established. It's important to let your doctor know if you are pregnant or intend on becoming pregnant whilst taking this drug and you should avoid breastfeeding whilst having this implant. If you require any further information about the practical use of this drug or have any questions or queries, you should contact your local doctor or healthcare professional for advice.