Ganciclovir is an antiviral drug used to treat cytomenalviral (CMV) infections, preventing blindness. Vitrasert is an insert which is surgically implanted in the eye and slowly released ganciclovir over 6 months.
Ganciclovir doesn't eradicate the virus, but does control it. CMV is a member of the herpes viral family which remains in the body indefinitely after an initial infection. If the immune system is compromised, for example an HIV infection, CMV is reactivated. CMV causes inflammation of the retina and accounts for a large portion of blindness in AIDS patients.
The most serious side effects of ganciclovir are life threatening blood problems - neutropenia, thrombocytopenia. These side effects are reversed if ganciclovir therapy is stopped.
If side effects are severe, another drug, foscarnet, is an alternative.
People with existing blood problems should avoid ganciclovir.
The ganciclovir eye insert releases the drug into the eye avoiding systemic drug interactions.
J Infect Dis 1992;25:21
New Engl J Med 1992;326:213
The relevant product monographs must be regarded as the appropriate sources of prescribing information.