Famciclovir treatment options for patients with frequent outbreaks of recurrent genital herpes: the RELIEF trial

J Clin Virol. 2008 Oct;43(2):190-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2008.06.004. Epub 2008 Jul 14.


Background: Recurrent genital HSV outbreaks are common among those suffering from the disease. Antiviral medications taken as suppressive therapy can reduce the frequency of these recurrences and reduce viral shedding occurring in between recurrences.

Objectives: To investigate the efficacy and safety of oral famciclovir as episodic (125 mg twice daily for 5 days) and suppressive (250 mg twice daily) treatment of recurrent genital herpes (RGH).

Study design: This was a randomized, multicenter, 6-month, open-label study. Efficacy variables were time to first recurrence of RGH symptoms, and change in total score of the Recurrent Genital Herpes Quality of Life (RGHQoL) questionnaire. Subject satisfaction questions were summarized.

Results: 384 subjects were randomized. There was a highly statistically significant difference between treatments in time to first recurrence of symptoms in favor of suppressive treatment (p<0.0001). There was no significant difference between treatments in total score of the RGHQoL or in subject satisfaction with treatment.

Conclusions: This study demonstrated that, compared to episodic treatment, suppressive treatment with oral famciclovir may extend the time to symptomatic outbreaks in patients with frequent recurrences of genital herpes.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00219310.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 2-Aminopurine / administration & dosage
  • 2-Aminopurine / adverse effects
  • 2-Aminopurine / analogs & derivatives*
  • 2-Aminopurine / therapeutic use
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antiviral Agents* / administration & dosage
  • Antiviral Agents* / adverse effects
  • Antiviral Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Famciclovir
  • Female
  • Herpes Genitalis / drug therapy*
  • Herpes Genitalis / virology
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / classification
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 1, Human / isolation & purification
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / classification
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Quality of Life
  • Secondary Prevention*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Antiviral Agents
  • 2-Aminopurine
  • Famciclovir

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00219310