May 25, 2017
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CYTOVENE-IV should not be administered if the absolute neutrophil count is less than 500 cells /μL or the platelet count is less than 25,000 cells /μL. Granulocytopenia (neutropenia), anemia and thrombocytopenia have been observed in patients treated with CYTOVENE-IV. The frequency and severity of these events vary widely in different patient populations (see ADVERSE REACTIONS).

CYTOVENE-IV should, therefore, be used with caution in patients with pre-existing cytopenias or with a history of cytopenic reactions to other drugs, chemicals or irradiation. Granulocytopenia usually occurs during the first or second week of treatment but may occur at any time during treatment. Cell counts usually begin to recover within 3 to 7 days of discontinuing drug. Colony-stimulating factors have been shown to increase neutrophil and white blood cell counts in patients receiving CYTOVENEIV solution for treatment of CMV retinitis.

Impairment Of Fertility

Animal data indicate that administration of ganciclovir causes inhibition of spermatogenesis and subsequent infertility. These effects were reversible at lower doses and irreversible at higher doses (see PRECAUTIONS: Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis1 and Impairment Of Fertility1). Although data in humans have not been obtained regarding this effect, it is considered probable that ganciclovir at the recommended doses causes temporary or permanent inhibition of spermatogenesis. Animal data also indicate that suppression of fertility in females may occur.


Because of the mutagenic and teratogenic potential of ganciclovir, women of childbearing potential should be advised to use effective contraception during treatment. Similarly, men should be advised to practice barrier contraception during and for at least 90 days following treatment with CYTOVENE-IV (see PRECAUTIONS: Pregnancy1: Category C).



In clinical studies with CYTOVENE-IV, the maximum single dose administered was 6 mg/kg by intravenous infusion over 1 hour. Larger doses have resulted in increased toxicity. It is likely that more rapid infusions would also result in increased toxicity (see OVERDOSE). Administration of CYTOVENE-IV solution should be accompanied by adequate hydration.

Initially reconstituted solutions of CYTOVENE-IV have a high pH (pH 11). Despite further dilution in intravenous fluids, phlebitis and/or pain may occur at the site of intravenous infusion. Care must be taken to infuse solutions containing CYTOVENE-IV only into veins with adequate blood flow to permit rapid dilution and distribution (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).

Since ganciclovir is excreted by the kidneys, normal clearance depends on adequate renal function. IF RENAL FUNCTION IS IMPAIRED, DOSAGE ADJUSTMENTS ARE REQUIRED FOR CYTOVENE-IV. Such adjustments should be based on measured or estimated creatinine clearance values (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).

Laboratory Testing

Due to the frequency of neutropenia, anemia and thrombocytopenia in patients receiving CYTOVENEIV (see ADVERSE REACTIONS), it is recommended that complete blood counts and platelet counts be performed frequently, especially in patients in whom ganciclovir or other nucleoside analogues have previously resulted in leukopenia, or in whom neutrophil counts are less than 1000 cells/μL at the beginning of treatment. Increased serum creatinine levels have been observed in trials evaluating CYTOVENE-IV. Patients should have serum creatinine or creatinine clearance values monitored carefully to allow for dosage adjustments in renally impaired patients (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis1

Ganciclovir was carcinogenic in the mouse at oral doses of 20 and 1000 mg/kg/day (approximately 0.1× and 1.4×, respectively, the mean drug exposure in humans following the recommended intravenous dose of 5 mg/kg, based on area under the plasma concentration curve [AUC] comparisons). At the dose of 1000 mg/kg/day there was a significant increase in the incidence of tumors of the preputial gland in males, forestomach (nonglandular mucosa) in males and females, and reproductive tissues (ovaries, uterus, mammary gland, clitoral gland and vagina) and liver in females. At the dose of 20 mg/kg/day, a slightly increased incidence of tumors was noted in the preputial and harderian glands in males, forestomach in males and females, and liver in females. No carcinogenic effect was observed in mice administered ganciclovir at 1 mg/kg/day (estimated as 0.01x the human dose based on AUC comparison). Except for histiocytic sarcoma of the liver, ganciclovir-induced tumors were generally of epithelial or vascular origin. Although the preputial and clitoral glands, forestomach and harderian glands of mice do not have human counterparts, ganciclovir should be considered a potential carcinogen in humans.

Ganciclovir increased mutations in mouse lymphoma cells and DNA damage in human lymphocytes in vitro at concentrations between 50 to 500 and 250 to 2000 μg/mL, respectively. In the mouse micronucleus assay, ganciclovir was clastogenic at doses of 150 and 500 mg/kg (IV) (2.8 to 10× human exposure based on AUC) but not 50 mg/kg (exposure approximately comparable to the human based on AUC). Ganciclovir was not mutagenic in the Ames Salmonella assay at concentrations of 500 to 5000 μg/mL.

Impairment Of Fertility1

Ganciclovir caused decreased mating behavior, decreased fertility, and an increased incidence of embryolethality in female mice following intravenous doses of 90 mg/kg/day (approximately 1.7x the mean drug exposure in humans following the dose of 5 mg/kg, based on AUC comparisons). Ganciclovir caused decreased fertility in male mice and hypospermatogenesis in mice and dogs following daily oral or intravenous administration of doses ranging from 0.2 to 10 mg/kg. Systemic drug exposure (AUC) at the lowest dose showing toxicity in each species ranged from 0.03 to 0.1x the AUC of the recommended human intravenous dose.


Category C

Ganciclovir has been shown to be embryotoxic in rabbits and mice following intravenous administration and teratogenic in rabbits. Fetal resorptions were present in at least 85% of rabbits and mice administered 60 mg/kg/day and 108 mg/kg/day (2× the human exposure based on AUC comparisons), respectively. Effects observed in rabbits included: fetal growth retardation, embryolethality, teratogenicity and/or maternal toxicity. Teratogenic changes included cleft palate, anophthalmia/microphthalmia, aplastic organs (kidney and pancreas), hydrocephaly and brachygnathia. In mice, effects observed were maternal/fetal toxicity and embryolethality.

Daily intravenous doses of 90 mg/kg administered to female mice prior to mating, during gestation, and during lactation caused hypoplasia of the testes and seminal vesicles in the month-old male offspring, as well as pathologic changes in the nonglandular region of the stomach (see Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis1). The drug exposure in mice as estimated by the AUC was approximately 1.7× the human AUC.

Ganciclovir may be teratogenic or embryotoxic at dose levels recommended for human use. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. CYTOVENE-IV should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefits justify the potential risk to the fetus.

1Footnote: All dose comparisons presented in the Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis1, Impairment Of Fertility1, and Pregnancy subsections are based on the human AUC following administration of a single 5 mg/kg intravenous infusion of CYTOVENE-IV as used during the maintenance phase of treatment. Compared with the single 5 mg/kg intravenous infusion, human exposure is doubled during the intravenous induction phase (5 mg/kg bid). The cross-species dose comparisons should be divided by 2 for intravenous induction treatment with CYTOVENE-IV.

Nursing Mothers

It is not known whether ganciclovir is excreted in human milk. However, many drugs are excreted in human milk and, because carcinogenic and teratogenic effects occurred in animals treated with ganciclovir, the possibility of serious adverse reactions from ganciclovir in nursing infants is considered likely (see Pregnancy1: Category C). Mothers should be instructed to discontinue nursing if they are receiving CYTOVENE-IV. The minimum interval before nursing can safely be resumed after the last dose of CYTOVENE-IV is unknown.

Pediatric Use


The spectrum of adverse events reported in 120 immunocompromised pediatric clinical trial participants with serious CMV infections receiving CYTOVENE-IV solution were similar to those reported in adults. Granulocytopenia (17%) and thrombocytopenia (10%) were the most common adverse events reported.

Sixteen pediatric patients (8 months to 15 years of age) with life- or sight-threatening CMV infections were evaluated in an open-label, CYTOVENE-IV solution, pharmacokinetics study. Adverse events reported for more than one pediatric patient were as follows: hypokalemia (4/16, 25%), abnormal kidney function (3/16, 19%), sepsis (3/16, 19%), thrombocytopenia (3/16, 19%), leukopenia (2/16, 13%), coagulation disorder (2/16, 13%), hypertension (2/16, 13%), pneumonia (2/16, 13%) and immune system disorder (2/16, 13%).

There has been very limited clinical experience using CYTOVENE-IV for the treatment of CMV retinitis in patients under the age of 12 years. Two pediatric patients (ages 9 and 5 years) showed improvement or stabilization of retinitis for 23 and 9 months, respectively. These pediatric patients received induction treatment with 2.5 mg/kg tid followed by maintenance therapy with 6 to 6.5 mg/kg once per day, 5 to 7 days per week. When retinitis progressed during once-daily maintenance therapy, both pediatric patients were treated with the 5 mg/kg bid regimen. Two other pediatric patients (ages 2.5 and 4 years) who received similar induction regimens showed only partial or no response to treatment. Another pediatric patient, a 6-year-old with T-cell dysfunction, showed stabilization of retinitis for 3 months while receiving continuous infusions of CYTOVENE-IV at doses of 2 to 5 mg/kg/24 hours. Continuous infusion treatment was discontinued due to granulocytopenia.

Eleven of the 72 patients in the placebo-controlled trial in bone marrow transplant recipients were pediatric patients, ranging in age from 3 to 10 years (5 treated with CYTOVENE-IV and 6 with placebo). Five of the pediatric patients treated with CYTOVENE-IV received 5 mg/kg intravenously bid for up to 7 days; 4 patients went on to receive 5 mg/kg qd up to day 100 posttransplant. Results were similar to those observed in adult transplant recipients treated with CYTOVENE-IV. Two of the 6 placebo-treated pediatric patients developed CMV pneumonia vs none of the 5 patients treated with CYTOVENE-IV. The spectrum of adverse events in the pediatric group was similar to that observed in the adult patients.

Geriatric Use

The pharmacokinetic profiles of CYTOVENE-IV in elderly patients have not been established. Since elderly individuals frequently have a reduced glomerular filtration rate, particular attention should be paid to assessing renal function before and during administration of CYTOVENE-IV (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).

Clinical studies of CYTOVENE-IV did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy. CYTOVENE-IV is known to be substantially excreted by the kidney, and the risk of toxic reactions to this drug may be greater in patients with impaired renal function. Because elderly patients are more likely to have decreased renal function, care should be taken in dose selection. In addition, renal function should be monitored and dosage adjustments should be made accordingly (see Use In Patients With Renal Impairment and DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION).

Use In Patients With Renal Impairment

CYTOVENE-IV should be used with caution in patients with impaired renal function because the halflife and plasma/serum concentrations of ganciclovir will be increased due to reduced renal clearance (see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION and ADVERSE REACTIONS).

Hemodialysis has been shown to reduce plasma levels of ganciclovir by approximately 50%.

This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Last reviewed on RxList: 12/21/2016


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