Single-day, patient-initiated famciclovir therapy for recurrent genital herpes: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Clin Infect Dis. 2006 Jan 1;42(1):8-13. doi: 10.1086/498521. Epub 2005 Nov 23.


Background: Orally administered antiviral therapy for genital herpes improves the time to lesion healing and resolves symptoms during an outbreak. Although traditional therapy for a recurrent episode for healthy adults has consisted of twice-daily dosing for 5 days, recent studies have indicated that shorter courses of antiviral therapy are effective. This study was conducted to assess the efficacy and safety of a patient-initiated, single-day regimen of famciclovir therapy, compared with placebo, in immunocompetent adult patients with recurrent genital herpes.

Methods: This multicenter, multinational, randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled study compared single-day, patient-initiated oral famciclovir (1000 mg given twice daily) with placebo for the treatment of recurrent genital herpes. Patients were instructed to initiate therapy within 6 h after onset of prodromal symptoms or genital herpes lesions.

Results: Famciclovir reduced (P < .001) the time to healing of nonaborted lesions (i.e., those that progressed [corrected] beyond the papule stage) (median time, 4.3 vs. 6.1 days) and all nonaborted and aborted lesions (median time, 3.5 vs. 5.0 days), compared with placebo. The proportion of patients with aborted lesions was larger in the famciclovir group than in the placebo group (23.3% vs. 12.7%; P = .003). Adverse events in the famciclovir group were infrequent overall; most were of mild-to-moderate severity and were similar to adverse events in the placebo group.

Conclusions: A single-day regimen of patient-initiated famciclovir treatment was well tolerated and safe, and the healing of recurrent genital herpes lesions occurred approximately 2 days faster than with placebo. Moreover, single-day famciclovir treatment stopped the development or progression of lesions beyond the papule stage. This convenient single-day regimen has the potential for improving patient compliance and satisfaction with therapy.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • 2-Aminopurine / administration & dosage
  • 2-Aminopurine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antiviral Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Famciclovir
  • Female
  • Herpes Genitalis / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence
  • Self Administration
  • Time Factors


  • Antiviral Agents
  • 2-Aminopurine
  • Famciclovir