Objective: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of oral famciclovir in the suppression of genital herpes.
Methods: In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that was performed at 11 university and 9 private ambulatory care referral centers, 375 women who were 18 years of age or older and had a history of 6 or more episodes of genital herpes during 12 of the last 24 months in the absence of suppressive therapy were treated for 4 months with oral famciclovir, 125 mg once daily or twice daily, 250 mg once daily or twice daily, 500 mg once daily, or placebo. The primary outcome measures included the time to first clinically and virologically confirmed recurrences, and safety as measured by clinical laboratory tests and adverse experiences.
Results: The median time to first recurrence was 82 days in the placebo group, 114 days in those receiving famciclovir, 125 mg once daily, and more than 120 days in the other treatment groups. When compared with placebo recipients, the time to the first clinical recurrence was significantly prolonged in subjects who received famciclovir, 125 mg twice daily (hazard ratio, 1.8; 95% confidence interval, 1.0-3.0; P = .03), and in those who received famciclovir, 250 mg twice daily (hazard ratio, 3.6; 95% confidence interval, 1.9-6.9; P < .001). Treatment was well tolerated, and there was no evidence of emergence of resistance during or after suppressive famciclovir therapy.
Conclusions: Oral famciclovir, 250 mg, given twice daily for 4 months is an effective, well-tolerated treatment for the suppression of genital herpes in women with frequent recurrences, but single daily doses produced less complete suppression of genital herpes.