Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

HPV/Genital Warts Health Center

Font Size

Experimental Drug Shows Promise for Genital Herpes

But larger, longer trials are needed, experts say

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Amy Norton

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 15, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental drug could eventually offer a new treatment option for genital herpes, a common and incurable sexually transmitted infection, researchers report.

In a small study, researchers found that the drug -- called pritelivir -- substantially curbed "viral shedding" in people with genital herpes. That means it decreased the amount of time the virus was active and potentially transmissible to patients' sexual partners.

The findings, reported in the Jan. 16 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, are based on 156 patients followed for just four weeks. Experts cautioned that the study is preliminary and offers a "proof of concept."

Still, they said, the results are important because pritelivir is the first in a new class of drugs that works differently than existing medications for genital herpes. The hope is that pritelivir will be better at preventing transmission of the virus.

"There was a fairly dramatic decrease in the probability of viral shedding in this study," said Dr. Richard Whitley, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

There is still a lot of research to be done, said Whitley, who wrote an editorial published with the study. But he said it's good news that drugs that work in new ways are under development.

"We're at the beginning of a new era" in genital herpes treatment, Whitley said.

Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus -- usually the strain known as HSV-2. It's a common disease: An estimated 16 percent of Americans aged 14 to 49 have an HSV-2 infection, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The infection may cause painful sores around the genitals, rectum or mouth. But, more often, it causes no symptoms or only mild ones, which means most people with HSV are unaware they're infected.

HSV can be dangerous, however. If it's passed from a mother to a newborn, the infection can be fatal. In rare cases, HSV invades the brain and triggers potentially deadly inflammation.

There is no cure for genital herpes. Once a person is infected, HSV hides out in nerve cells and reactivates periodically -- sometimes causing symptoms, sometimes not. Currently, three medications can treat symptoms, and -- if taken daily -- suppress new symptom outbreaks: acyclovir (brand name Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir) and valacyclovir (Valtrex).

Today on WebMD

HPV Vaccine Future
STD Overview
STD Facts Quiz
Syringes and graph illustration
Sex Drive Killers
Genital Herpes Risks Quiz
Young couple holding hands
Herpes Vaccine Study
Condom Quiz
HPV Symptoms Tests
Get The STD Picture
cancer cell

WebMD Special Sections