Voriconazole is prescribed to treat a fungal infection within your body.
Take two doses a day, twelve hours apart. You should take voriconazole when your stomach is empty. This means you should take each dose either an hour before a meal, or alternatively wait until two hours after you have eaten.It is important that you finish the full course of treatment prescribed for you.
|Type of medicine||An antifungal medicine|
|Used for||Fungal infections in adults and children|
|Available as||Tablets, liquid medicine and injection|
Fungal infections within the body sometimes occur and can be serious. You are more at risk of developing an internal fungal infection if your immune system does not work properly. For example, if you are taking chemotherapy, or if your immune system is being suppressed following stem cell transplant, or if you have HIV/AIDS.
Voriconazole is used for the treatment of serious fungal infections, particularly aspergillosis. Aspergillosis most commonly affects the lungs, but it can sometimes infect other organs too. Voriconazole works by stopping the growth of the fungi causing the infection.
Before taking voriconazole
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine can only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking voriconazole it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- If you have any problems with the way your liver works, or if you have any problems with the way your kidneys work.
- If you have a heart condition, or any heart rhythm problem such as a slow or irregular heartbeat.
- If you have a rare inherited blood disorder called porphyria.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
How to take voriconazole
- Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about voriconazole, and will also provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you could experience from taking it.
- Take voriconazole exactly as your doctor tells you to. It is taken twice daily. You should space the doses out evenly throughout the day, which means taking them twelve hours apart. Your doctor (or nurse if you are in hospital) will tell you how many tablets or how much medicine to take for each dose. During the first 24 hours of taking voriconazole you will be asked to take a higher dose than afterwards. This is to make sure you get the right amount of medicine into your bloodstream straightaway.
- You should take voriconazole when your stomach is empty, which means that you should take your doses either an hour before a meal, or alternatively wait until two hours after you have eaten. This is because your body absorbs less of the medicine if it is taken at a mealtime, and this consequently means that the treatment is less effective for you.
- If you have been given liquid medicine, use the oral syringe to measure out your doses. To do this, put the tip of the syringe into the adaptor in the neck of the medicine bottle. When it feels secure, turn the bottle and the syringe upside down. Slowly pull back the plunger on the syringe until it fills it with medicine up to the mark for your dose. Turn the bottle and syringe upright again and then remove the syringe from the bottle. Slowly empty the contents of the syringe into your mouth. Then wash and rinse the syringe.
- If you forget to take a dose, leave out the missed dose but make sure that you remember to take your next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses together to make up for the forgotten dose.
- Your doctor will tell you how long you will need the treatment for. Continue to take the medicine until the full course is finished (unless you are told otherwise by your doctor). This is to make sure that your infection has completely gone and also to prevent it from coming back.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Try to keep all your appointments with your doctor and clinic. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. Your doctor will want to do some blood tests during the treatment to check that your liver and kidneys are working properly.
- Voriconazole can make your skin much more sensitive to sunlight than it is usually. You should protect your skin from sunlight, even on bright but cloudy days. If you notice any sunburn, or if you develop a skin rash on sun-exposed areas of your skin, please speak with a doctor about this as soon as you are able. Do not use sunbeds.
- If you buy any medicines 'over the counter', please check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take with voriconazole. This is because voriconazole can interfere with some medicines, including an anti-inflammatory painkiller called ibuprofen which can be bought without a prescription.
- You must avoid getting pregnant while you are taking voriconazole. Make sure you have discussed with your doctor which types of contraception are suitable for you and your partner if this affects you.
Can voriconazole cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains the most common ones associated with voriconazole. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Very common voriconazole side-effects (these affect more than 1 in 10 people) ||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling or being sick, tummy (abdominal) pain||Eat simple meals. If it continues or is severe, please speak with your doctor as soon as you are able|
|Headache||Ask your doctor for advice on a suitable painkiller|
|Diarrhoea||Drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids|
|Blurred vision, other changes in vision||Do not use tools or machines, and do not drive|
|Swollen feet and ankles, fever, breathing difficulties||If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor|
Important: your doctor will discuss with you the possibility of less common but more serious side-effects, such as sun damage to your skin and problems with your liver, blood or pancreas. You must contact your doctor straightaway if you experience any of the following:
- Any yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice).
- Persistent stomach pain or sickness, particularly if with feelings of extreme tiredness.
- A severe skin rash or blisters, or an allergic-type skin reaction.
- Any unexplained or unusual bruising or bleeding.
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store voriconazole
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
- The medicine keeps for 14 days once it has been made up by pharmacy. Check the label for the expiry date and do not use it after this time.
Important information about all medicines
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- Manufacturer's PIL, Vfend® 50 mg and 200 mg film-coated tablets; Pfizer Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated December 2015.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Vfend® 40 mg/ml powder for oral suspension; Pfizer Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated December 2015.
- British National Formulary; 70th Edition (Sep 2015) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Prof Cathy Jackson