Ganciclovir ophthalmic gel 0.15% for the treatment of acute herpetic keratitis: background, effectiveness, tolerability, safety, and future applications
Timothy Y Chou, Bennett Y Hong
Department of Ophthalmology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, USA
Abstract: Eye disease due to herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a leading cause of ocular morbidity and the number one infectious cause of unilateral corneal blindness in the developed parts of the globe. Recurrent keratitis can result in progressive corneal scarring, thinning, and vascularization. Antiviral agents employed against HSV have primarily been nucleoside analogs. Early generation drugs included idoxuridine, iododesoxycytidine, vidarabine, and trifluridine. While effective, they tended to have low bioavailability and measurable local cellular toxicity due to their nonselective mode of action. Acyclovir 0.3% ointment is a more selective agent, and had become a first-line topical drug for acute HSV keratitis in Europe and other places outside of the US. Ganciclovir 0.15% gel is the most recently approved topical treatment for herpes keratitis. Compared to acyclovir 0.3% ointment, ganciclovir 0.15% gel has been shown to be better tolerated and no less effective in several Phase II and III trials. Additionally, topical ganciclovir does not cause adverse systemic side effects and is therapeutic at lower concentrations. Based on safety, efficacy, and tolerability, ganciclovir 0.15% gel should now be considered a front-line topical drug in the treatment of dendritic herpes simplex epithelial keratitis. Topics of future investigation regarding other potential uses for ganciclovir gel may include the prophylaxis of recurrent HSV epithelial keratitis, treatment of other forms of ocular disease caused by herpesviruses and adenovirus, and ganciclovir gel as an adjunct to antitumor therapy.
Keywords: antiviral, herpes, Virgan, Zirgan, ganciclovir, keratitis, HSV
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