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What is Voriconazole?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 17 May 2020
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Voriconazole is a strong and effective anti-fungal medicine that is used to treat some forms of resistant fungal infection like aspergillosis, fungal pneumonia or some eye infections. It is usually administered by intravenous (IV) infusion or in an oral solution form, and is generally only considered appropriate for a significant fungal infection that cannot be treated by other means. It is most valuable when used to combat aspergilla infections, respiratory infections that most commonly occur in patients who are the most vulnerable due to compromised immune systems.

Exactly how voriconazole is delivered and how much is administered may depend on the type of disease. Patients too sick to take this medicine by mouth may first begin with IV doses, only progressing to taking the oral form after sufficient recovery. For those with better initial health, there may be no need for IV administration and patients would simply take the oral solution from the beginning.

Some caution is needed in taking this medication orally. It must be taken at least an hour after a meal, and no food can be consumed for one hour or more after an oral dose. There are also a variety of medications with which voriconazole can interact. These include warfarin, carbamazepine, many of the statins, a variety of drugs used to treat acid reflux, some antibiotics, and many calcium channel blockers. Patients should speak with doctors about all medications being taken, including over the counter ones and any herbal or vitamin supplements, prior to using a prescription of voriconazole.

A number of patients with a fungal infection shouldn’t take voriconazole or will require special dosage instructions. Those who have liver impairment may need to take different amounts since the liver clears the medicine. Pregnant and nursing women should not be given this drug because it can cause birth defects and passes into breast milk. Others who will need to be monitored carefully when on voriconazole include those who have a history of heart arrhythmias, patients with kidney disease, and people who have in the past shown allergies to other oral anti-fungal drugs.

There are relatively common side effects associated with voriconazole. One is blurring of vision. A person taking this medication needs to decide if blurring is so pronounced that it impairs ability to drive. Another reaction to the medication is eye photosensitivity. Dark glasses can help, but people should also be aware of the skin’s increased sensitivity. Wearing protective clothing and staying out of direct sunlight while using this medication are advised.

Other less serious side effects include stomach upset with nausea, some retention of water in the lower extremities, and headache. People can contact their doctor should these symptoms be difficult.

Certain voriconazole side effects are more serious. These include allergic reaction, appearance of jaundice (yellowing of skin and whites of the eyes), inability to urinate, changes in heart rate, and high fever or rash. Any of these effects require immediate medical attention.

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