Active Ingredients

Valganciclovir – Effect, Application & Risks


Valganciclovir is an antiviral that is used to treat cytomegalovirus retinitis ( inclusion body disease ) that occurs in AIDS patients . The drug is assigned to the group of nucleoside analogues and is widely used. As a prodrug of the substance ganciclovir , it essentially has the same effects and side effects as the latter.

What is valganciclovir?

Valganciclovir is an antiviral drug (an antiviral ) that belongs to the group of nucleoside analogues and is an essential part of the treatment of AIDS patients. It is given to treat cytomegalovirus retinitis (inclusion body disease). This is a disease caused by the human cytomegalovirus and is particularly dangerous for people with a weak immune system .

Valganciclovir is taken orally (by mouth) and is usually well and quickly absorbed by the body. The active ingredient itself only becomes active inside the body. After being metabolized , it converts to the related substance ganciclovir. Valganciclovir is therefore considered its prodrug.

The active ingredient is described with the chemical formula C 14 – H 22 – N 6 – O 5, which corresponds to a moral mass of 354.36 g/mol. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, valganciclovir is sold under the name Valcyte® as a prescription and pharmacy drug.

Pharmacological action

Valganciclovir is composed of two stereocenters, which basically allows the existence of four so-called stereoisomers. However, the stereocenters of valganciclovir are uniformly configured as S. The actual number of stereoisomers is therefore limited to only two, which has implications for the pharmacological activity of the substance.

After being metabolized in the human body, this inhibits the replication of the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), which is also known as human herpesvirus 5 (HHV 5). The virus is particularly dangerous for those people who – like AIDS patients – only have a very weak immune system.

Valganciclovir achieves its virus-inhibiting effect by converting the basically inactive substance within the human body into the pharmacologically very active substance ganciclovir. This makes it impossible for HHV 5 or HCMV to produce an enzyme that is essential for reproduction . Valganciclovir is therefore considered a so-called prodrug, which is why it has positive pharmacokinetics and high bioavailability .

Medical Application & Use

The therapy of the cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is the main field of application of valganciclovir. The virus is usually not dangerous for a healthy person, since the immune system is able to reduce the proliferation to a tolerable level.

However, if the immune system is severely weakened, for example due to AIDS, infection with HCMC or HHV 5 can be life-threatening. Because in these cases, the body itself is no longer able to keep the number of viruses low. These can spread almost uncontrollably.

Valganciclovir counteracts this by inhibiting the replication of the virus. The active ingredient, which is generally taken orally as a film-coated tablet, is therefore an antiviral.

Risks & side effects

Valganciclovir can cause side effects. However, this is not necessarily the case. Since valganciclovir is a prodrug and is converted into the active substance ganciclovir within the human body, the side effects largely correspond to those of ganciclovir.

Accordingly, a pathogenic reduction in neutrophilic granulocytes (so-called neutropenia ) can occur. A pronounced lack of granulocytes in the blood ( agranulocytosis ) is also a typical side effect of ganciclovir and valganciclovir. In addition, a very low level of hemoglobin in the blood ( anemia ) can also be caused by valganciclovir.

Gastrointestinal complaints such as diarrhea , abdominal pain , stomach cramps and vomiting are also possible side effects.

Occasionally, damage to the liver cells or neuropathy can also occur. If an intolerance to valganciclovir or ganciclovir is known, the active ingredients must not be taken.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.