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Genital Herpes Health Center

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FDA OKs 1-Day Treatment for Herpes

Famvir Only Needs to Be Taken for a Single Day to Treat Herpes and Cold Sores
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Ngozi A. Osondu, MD

Aug. 2, 2006 -- The FDA has approved the drug Famvir as the first and only one-day antiviral treatment for recurrent genital herpesgenital herpes and cold sorescold sores in people with healthy immune systems.

The drug's maker, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., announced the FDA approval in a news release dated July 28.

At least 45 million people age 12 and older in the U.S. have had a genital herpesherpes infection -- or about one in five in that age range, says the CDC.

Before, genital herpes required five days of Famvir treatment -- although at a lower dose. Famvir was not FDA approved for cold sores in people with healthy immune systems (meaning those without aids).

The new approval shortens Famvir treatment to a single day at the start of an outbreak and adds cold sores to the drug's approved uses.

Famvir Dosage

Patients would take 1,000 milligrams of Famvir twice daily for one day at the first sign of genital herpes symptoms, and 1,500 milligrams of Famvir once for one day at the first sign of cold sore symptoms to shorten outbreaks and reduce symptoms.

The drug, available only by prescription, is taken orally.

It does not cure genital herpes or cold sores. Currently, there is no cure for herpes. Antiviral drugs such as Famvir, Zovirax and Valtrex can only help treat or suppress the infection.

Famvir earned FDA approval in 1994 and is used to treat shinglesshingles, as well as the herpes virus which causes both genital herpes and cold sores.

Timing Counts

Single-day Famvir should be started within six hours of the first sign of symptoms, such as tingling, itching, burning, or the appearance of herpesherpes sores, says Novartis.

There is "a narrow window of opportunity for treatment" at the start of an outbreak of herpes or cold sorescold sores, says Novartis.

Timing is crucial because the virus copies itself most actively in an outbreak's first hours. Interrupting that process may shorten the outbreak and reduce its severity.

Herpes Virus

There are two types of the herpes simplex virus: herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2).

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