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What is famciclovir? What are the uses for famciclovir?
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.
What brand names are available for famciclovir?
Is famciclovir available as a generic drug?
GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes
Do I need a prescription for famciclovir?
What are the side effects of famciclovir?
The most common side effects associated with the use of famciclovir are:
Other important side effects which are serious, but rare, include
- serious allergic reactions,
- serious skin reactions,
- abnormal tests of liver function, and
- reduced white blood cells (neutropenia) or platelets (thrombocytopenia).
Cases of kidney failure have been reported when higher than recommended doses of famciclovir were administered to patients with underlying kidney problems.
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What is the dosage for famciclovir?
Famciclovir may be taken with or without food. The recommended doses are:
- Recurrent genital herpes: 1,000 mg every 12 hours for one day.
- Recurrent cold sores: 1,500 mg as a single dose.
- Suppression of recurrent genital herpes: 250 mg twice daily.
- Shingles: 500 mg every 8 hours for 7 days.
- HIV-infected patients (cold sores or genital herpes): 500 mg twice daily for 7 days.
Which drugs or supplements interact with famciclovir?
Probenecid (Benemid) may reduce the kidney's removal of famciclovir leading to higher concentrations of famciclovir in the blood. This may lead to side effects from famciclovir.
Is famciclovir safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Famciclovir has not been adequately studied in pregnant women.
What else should I know about famciclovir?
What preparations of famciclovir are available?
Tablets: 125, 250, and 500 mg STORAGE: Famciclovir should be stored at room temperature, 15-30 C (59-86 F).
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Famciclovir (Famvir) is a drug used for the treatment of genital herpes, cold sores, shingles, and chickenpox. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precautions, and pregnancy information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
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Related Disease Conditions
Chickenpox (chicken pox) is a contagious childhood disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Symptoms have an incubation period of 14 to 16 days and include a couple days of mild fever, weakness, and red, raised rash that progresses to blisters that eventually burst and crust over. Complications include bacterial infection of the open sores, scarring, encephalitis, nerve palsies, and Reye's syndrome.
Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a painful rash caused by the varicella zoster virus. Other shingles symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, and body aches. Treatment focuses on pain management and shortening the duration of the illness with antiviral medications.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Women (STDs)
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are among the most common infectious diseases in the United States. STDs can be spread through any type of sexual activity involving the sex organs, the anus or mouth, or through contact with blood during sexual activity. Examples of STDs include, chancroid, chlamydia, gonorrhea, granuloma inguinale, lymphogranuloma venereum, syphilis, genital herpes, genital warts, trichomoniasis, pubic lice (crabs), and scabies. Treatment is generally with antibiotics; however, some STDs that go untreated can lead to death.
Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
Ramsay Hunt syndrome is an infection of a facial nerve that causes a red painful rash with blisters and facial paralysis. Other symptoms of Ramsay Hunt syndrome may include: ear pain, hearing loss, dizziness (or vertigo), dry eye, and changes in taste sensation. The herpes zoster virus causes the infection. The infection is treated with: antiviral agents, steroids, and pain medications.
Genital Herpes in Women (Symptoms, Signs, Treatment)
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Symptoms of genital herpes include painful blisters and often fever, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes for first time infection. Genital herpes is diagnosed with lab tests to test for the presence of the virus. Treatment for genital herpes includes antiviral medications to shorten the duration of the outbreak or reduce the risk of future outbreaks. There is no cure for genital herpes. Condoms may help prevent the spread of genital herpes.
Cold Sores (Nongenital Herpes Simplex Infections)
Herpes simplex infections are common and when they appear around the mouth and lips, people often refer to them as "cold sores" and "fever blisters." Canker sores are different than cold sores. Air droplets can spread the virus, as can direct contact with the fluid from the blisters. Cold sore treatment include over-the-counter medication, as well as prescription medications.
STDs in Men
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections transmitted during sexual contact. They may be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. STDs in men cause no symptoms or symptoms like genital burning, itching, sores, rashes, or discharge. Common infections that are sexually transmitted in men include gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, hepatitis C and B, genital warts, human papillomavirus (HPV), and genital herpes. Some STDs in men are treatable while others are not. STDs are diagnosed with tests that identify proteins or genetic material of the organisms causing the infection. The prognosis of an STD depends on whether the infection is treatable or not. Use of latex condoms can help reduce the risk of contracting an STD but it does not eliminate the risk entirely.
Itch (Itching or Pruritus)
Itching can be a common problem. Itches can be localized or generalized. There are many causes of itching to include: infection (jock itch, vaginal itch), disease (hyperthyroidism, liver or kidney), reactions to drugs, and skin infestations (pubic or body lice). Treatment for itching varies depending on the cause of the itch.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Pregnancy (STDs)
When you are pregnant, many sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be especially harmful to you and your baby. These STDs include herpes, HIV/AIDS, genital warts (HPV), hepatitis B, chlamydia, syphilis, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis. Symptoms include bumps, sores, warts, swelling, itching, or redness in the genital region. Treatment of STDs while pregnant depends on how far along you are in the pregnancy and the progression of the infection.
Pityriasis rosea is a rash that begins with a large pink patch with well-defined scaly borders on the back, chest, or neck. In one to two weeks, the person will develop many smaller pink patches on his or her trunk, arms, and legs. Symptoms include mild itching and possible sore throat, fatigue, nausea, aching, and decreased appetite. Pityriasis rosea typically resolves on its own and symptoms and signs may be treated with topical steroid creams and oral antihistamines.
Shingles and Pregnancy
Becoming infected with chickenpox during pregnancy could cause birth defects in your unborn child. Likewise, shingles could also cause problems for your unborn child. If you are pregnant and haven't had chickenpox, avoid exposure to infected people. Zostavax, the shingles vaccine, can reduce the incidence of shingles by half. Women should wait at least three months after receiving the vaccine before trying to get pregnant.
Are Cold Sores (Fever Blisters) Contagious?
About 20% of cases of cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), and approximately 80% of cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Cold sores are transmitted by sharing utensils and razors, kissing, and oral sex. There is no cure for cold sores.
Pimple vs. Cold Sore
Pimples are areas of skin inflammation with pus in the center. Cold sores are fluid-filled blisters. Pimples are caused by bacterial overgrowth and inflammation. Cold sores are caused by infection with herpes simplex viruses (HSV-1 and HSV-2). Benzoyl peroxide and sometimes antibiotics treat acne. Antiviral medications accelerate the healing process of oral herpes.
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