GENERIC NAME: famciclovir
BRAND NAME: Famvir
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Famciclovir is an antiviral drug which is active against the Herpes viruses, including herpes simplex 1 and 2 (cold sores and genital herpes) and varicella-zoster (shingles and chickenpox). It belongs to a class of drugs called nucleoside analogs that mimic one of the building blocks of DNA. It stops the spread of herpes virus in the body by preventing the replication of viral DNA that is necessary for viruses to multiply. Other drugs in the same class include acyclovir (Zovirax) and valacyclovir (Valtrex). Famciclovir is actually a "prodrug," that is, not active directly against viruses. Instead, famciclovir is converted to penciclovir in the body, and it is the penciclovir that is active against the viruses. Famciclovir is active against the same viruses as acyclovir but has a longer duration of action. Therefore, it can be taken fewer times each day. Famciclovir does not cure or stop the spread of herpes infections. Famciclovir relieves pain, burning, itching, and tingling, and also heals and prevents sores associated with herpes infections. Famciclovir was approved for use by the FDA in June 1994.
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