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trademark for preparations of acyclovir, an antiviral agent.


acyclovir sodium


Pharmacologic class: Acyclic purine nucleoside analogue

Therapeutic class: Antiviral

Pregnancy risk category B


Inhibits viral DNA polymerase, thereby inhibiting replication of viral DNA. Specific for herpes simplex types 1 (HSV-1) and 2 (HSV-2), varicellazoster virus, Epstein-Barr virus, and cytomegalovirus (CMV).


Capsules: 200 mg

Cream: 5% in 2-g tube

Injection: 50 mg/ml

Ointment: 5% in 15-g tube

Powder for injection: 500 mg/vial, 1,000 mg/vial

Suspension: 200 mg/5 ml

Tablets: 400 mg, 800 mg

Indications and dosages

Acute treatment of herpes zoster (shingles)

Adults: 800 mg P.O. q 4 hours while awake (five times/day) for 7 to 10 days

Initial episode of genital herpes

Adults: 200 mg P.O. q 4 hours while awake (1,000 mg/day) for 10 days

Chronic suppressive therapy for recurrent genital herpes episodes

Adults: 400 mg P.O. b.i.d., or 200 mg P.O. three to five times daily for up to 12 months

Intermittent therapy for recurrent genital herpes episodes

Adults: 200 mg P.O. q 4 hours while awake (five times/day) for 5 days, initiated at first sign or symptom of recurrence

Management of initial episodes of genital herpes and limited, non-life-threatening mucocutaneous herpes simplex virus infections in immunocompromised patients

Adults: Apply approximately ½″ ribbon of ointment per 4 square inches of surface area to sufficiently cover all lesions q 3 hours, six times daily for 7 days.

Treatment of recurrent herpes labialis (cold sores)

Adults and adolescents ages 12 and older: Apply cream to infected area five times daily for 4 days.

Varicella (chickenpox)

Adults and children weighing more than 40 kg (88 lb): 800 mg P.O. q.i.d. for 5 days

Children older than age 2: 20 mg/kg P.O. q.i.d. for 5 days

Mucosal and cutaneous HSV-1 and HSV-2 in immunocompromised patients

Adults and children older than age 12: 5 mg/kg I.V. infusion over 1 hour given q 8 hours for 7 days

Children younger than age 12: 10 mg/kg I.V. infusion over 1 hour given q 8 hours for 7 days

Herpes simplex encephalitis

Adults and children older than age 12: 10 mg/kg I.V. over 1 hour given q 8 hours for 10 days

Children ages 3 months to 12 years: 20 mg/kg I.V. over 1 hour given q 8 hours for 10 days

Children from birth to 3 months: 10 mg/kg I.V. over 1 hour given q 8 hours for 10 days

Varicella zoster infections in immunocompromised patients

Adults and adolescents older than age 12: 10 mg/kg I.V. over 1 hour given q 8 hours for 7 days

Children younger than age 12: 20 mg/kg I.V. over 1 hour given q 8 hours for 7 days

Dosage adjustment

• Renal impairment

• Obesity (adult dosage based on ideal weight)

• Elderly patients

Off-label uses

• Herpes zoster encephalitis

• CMV and HSV infection after bone marrow or kidney transplantation

• Infectious mononucleosis

• Varicella pneumonia


• Hypersensitivity to drug or valacyclovir


Use cautiously in:

• preexisting serious neurologic, hepatic, pulmonary, or fluid or electrolyte abnormalities

• renal impairment

• obesity

• pregnant or breastfeeding patients.


• Make sure patient is adequately hydrated before starting therapy.

• Give single I.V. dose by infusion over at least 1 hour to minimize renal damage.

• Don't give by I.V. bolus or by I.M. or subcutaneous route.

• Be aware that absorption of topical acyclovir is minimal.

Adverse reactions

CNS: aggressive behavior, dizziness, malaise, weakness, paresthesia, headache; with I.V. use-encephalopathic changes (lethargy, tremors, obtundation, confusion, hallucinations, agitation, seizures, coma)

CV: peripheral edema

EENT: vision abnormalities

GI: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

GU: proteinuria, hematuria, crystalluria, vaginitis, candidiasis, changes in menses, vulvitis, oliguria, renal pain, renal failure, glomerulonephritis Hematologic: anemia, lymphadenopathy, thrombocytopenia, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura/hemolytic uremic syndrome (in immunocompromised patients), disseminated intravascular coagulation, hemolysis, leukopenia, leukoclastic vasculitis

Hepatic: jaundice, hepatitis

Musculoskeletal: myalgia

Skin: photosensitivity rash, pruritus, angioedema, alopecia, urticaria, severe local inflammatory reactions (with I.V. extravasation), toxic epidermal necrolysis, erythema multiforme

Other: gingival hyperplasia, fever, excessive thirst, pain at injection site, anaphylaxis, Stevens-Johnson syndrome


Drug-drug. Interferon: additive effect

Nephrotoxic drugs: increased risk of nephrotoxicity

Probenecid: increased acyclovir blood level

Zidovudine: increased CNS effects, especially drowsiness

Drug-diagnostic tests. Alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, bilirubin, blood urea nitrogen: increased levels

Patient monitoring

• Monitor fluid intake and output.

• Assess for signs and symptoms of encephalopathy.

• Evaluate patient frequently for adverse reactions, especially bleeding tendency.

• Monitor CBC with white cell differential and kidney function test results.

Patient teaching

• Instruct patient to keep taking drug exactly as prescribed, even after symptoms improve.

• Advise patient to drink enough fluids to ensure adequate urinary output.

• Tell patient to monitor urine output and report significant changes.

Instruct patient to immediately report unusual bleeding or bruising.

• Caution patient to avoid driving and other hazardous activities until he knows how drug affects concentration and alertness.

• Advise patient to minimize GI upset by eating small, frequent servings of food and drinking plenty of fluids.

• Tell patient to use soft toothbrush and electric razor to avoid injury to gums and skin.

• Advise patient to avoid sexual intercourse when visible herpes lesions are present.

• Inform patient that he may need to undergo regular blood testing during therapy.

• As appropriate, review all other significant and life-threatening adverse reactions and interactions, especially those related to the drugs and tests mentioned above.


A trademark for the drug acyclovir.


A nucleoside analogue used to manage viral infections in patients with bone marrow transplants, chemotherapy-induced or acquired immunosuppression—e.g., AIDS.
Indications HSV-1, HSV-2, HVZ, and CMV. Acyclovir is considered safe for paediatric chickenpox (varicella-zoster) if begun in the first 24 hours of rash, although it is unclear if it reduces the rare serious complications of chickenpox or is more effective than vidarabine in reducing viral shedding by HSV-infected infants. 
Adverse effects Upset stomach, headache, nausea; hair loss with chronic use.


Acyclovir, see there.


A brand name for the antiviral drug ACICLOVIR.
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