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What is cidofovir?

Cidofovir (also called Vistide®) is a medicine used to treat viral infections caused by cytomegalovirus (also called CMV) and other viruses. It is available as a clear liquid given into a vein (IV) over a period of one (1) hour. Before receiving this medicine, the staff will give you normal saline by vein (IV). You also might be required to take a medicine by mouth called probenecid, which helps protect the kidneys.

Cidofovir can pose a health hazard to caregivers. All caregivers should take safety precautions while giving this drug. For 48 hours after this drug is given, the patient’s body fluids can contain the drug. During that 48-hour period, caregivers should follow safety guidelines when handling the patient’s vomit, blood, urine, and bowel movements, including diapers. These guidelines include wearing gloves when cleaning up body fluids. For a complete list of safety precautions, see “Do you know… Protecting caregivers from drug hazards.”

Possible side effects of cidofovir


  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache

Later (usually more than a day after treatment starts)

  • Decreased kidney function
  • Changes in electrolyte levels
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain or cramps
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Skin rash, itching

If you have any of these side effects, tell the doctor right away:

  • An allergic reaction including itching, trouble breathing, pain in the chest, blue skin color, or swelling of face, lips, tongue or throat
  • Decrease in how much or how often you urinate
  • Sudden change in vision, eye pain or irritation

These are the most common side effects, but there may be others. Please report all side effects to the doctor or nurse.

In case of a severe side effect or reaction, call 595-3300. If you are outside the Memphis area, dial toll-free 1-866-2STJUDE (1-866-278-5833), and press 0 after the call connects.

Special instructions for cidofovir

  • Probenecid is a medicine that may be given with cidofovir to reduce the chance of kidney damage. Probenecid is usually ordered to be taken by mouth 3 hours before the cidofovir infusion and at 2 and 8 hours after the cidofovir infusion is complete. It is important to follow the instructions from your doctor.
  • Drinking plenty of liquids will reduce the chance of kidney damage while you are receiving cidofovir. The doctor or nurse will tell you how much liquid you should drink.
  • To help keep you hydrated, the staff will give you saline solution by vein (IV) before the infusion of cidofovir.
  • Tell your nurse how you are feeling during the infusion of cidofovir. Let the nurse know if you are feeling short of breath, itching, have chills, feel lightheaded or dizzy. There are medicines that can be given to reduce or prevent these effects.
  • While you are receiving cidofovir, the staff will take blood samples regularly to test for changes in liver and kidney function, blood counts, and electrolytes.
  • The staff might take urine samples to check for glucose and protein.
  • Eye exams may be done to measure pressure in the eyes and sharpness of vision. Your doctor will tell you if eye exams are needed.
  • Cidofovir can possibly cause birth defects. If you are sexually active, you should use 2 forms of birth control while you are receiving cidofovir and for 90 days after the cidofovir therapy ends.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

تنبيه: إذا كنت تتحدث باللغة العربية فيمكنك الاستعانة بخدمات المساعدة اللغوية المتوفرة لك مجانا. .يرجى الاتصال بالرقم. 5833-278-866-1  (الهاتف النصي: 1040-595-901-1).