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  • Generic Name: (famciclovir)
    Other Brands: Famvir
  • Last Revised: 10/2013
    • What is this medication and its most common uses?

      Famvir is a medicine used to treat cold sores, genital herpes, and shingles (a painful rash caused by the chickenpox virus). Famvir is also used to treat recurrent cold sores and genital herpes in adults with an HIV infection (AIDS).

    • What should I know when beginning and continuing on this medication?

      How does this medication work?

      Famvir works by lowering the ability of the virus to multiply in your body, thereby reducing your symptoms.

      What are the beneficial effects of this medication and when should I begin to have results?


      Cold Sores, Genital Herpes, and Shingles: Famvir has been shown to help your lesions heal faster.

      Adults with HIV Infection: Famvir may prevent new lesions from forming.

      When: Everyone responds differently to treatment, so try to be patient and follow your healthcare provider's directions. It is important that you take Famvir exactly as your healthcare provider has prescribed.

      How do I know it is working?

      You may start to notice an improvement in your symptoms after you start taking Famvir. This is a good indicator that your medication is working. Your healthcare provider may ask you questions and order tests to assess how well your infection is being treated.

    • What are the possible side effects of this medication?

      The following is not a full list of side effects. Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Only your healthcare provider can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this medication.

      More common side effects may include: headache, nausea.

      Less common side effects may include:

      Famvir may cause severe kidney problems.

    • Who should not take this medication?

      Do not take Famvir if you are allergic to it, any of its ingredients, or to a similar medicine called penciclovir cream.

    • What should I tell my healthcare provider before I take the first dose of this medication?

      Tell your healthcare provider about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with Famvir. Also, talk to your healthcare provider about your complete medical history, especially if you have kidney or liver problems; have a rare genetic problem with galactose intolerance, a severe lactase deficiency, or if you cannot absorb glucose-galactose; or if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

    • What is the usual dosage?

      The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your healthcare provider uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your healthcare provider may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your healthcare provider's approval.

      Cold Sores

      Adults: The recommended dose is 1500 milligrams (mg) as a single dose.

      Genital Herpes (Recurrent Episodes)

      Adults: The recommended dose is 1000 mg twice a day for 1 day.

      Genital Herpes (Long-Term Control of Recurrent Episodes)

      Adults: The recommended dose is 250 mg twice a day.


      Adults: The recommended dose is 500 mg every 8 hours for 7 days.

      Cold Sores and Genital Herpes in Adults with HIV Infection

      Adults: The recommended dose is 500 mg twice a day for 7 days.

      If you have kidney impairment, your healthcare provider may adjust your dose appropriately.

    • How should I take this medication?

      Take Famvir exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not change your dose or stop taking Famvir without first talking to your healthcare provider.

      Take Famvir with or without food.

      If you are taking Famvir to treat cold sores, shingles, or genital herpes, you should start treatment as soon as possible after your symptoms start.

    • What should I avoid while taking this medication?

      Do not have sexual contact with your partner when you have any symptoms or outbreak of genital herpes.

    • What are the possible food and drug interactions associated with this medication?

      No significant interactions have been reported with Famvir at this time. However, always tell your healthcare provider about any medicines you take, including over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

    • May I receive this medication if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

      The effects of Famvir during pregnancy and breastfeeding are unknown. Tell your healthcare provider immediately if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

    • What should I do if I miss a dose of this medication?

      If you miss a dose of Famvir, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the one you missed and return to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take two doses at once.

    • How should I store this medication?

      Store at room temperature.

    • Who should I contact in case of emergency or overdose?
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      In the event of a medical emergency call your doctor or 9-1-1 immediately. In the event of overdose, call your doctor or poison control for further instructions.
      National Poison Control#: Call 1-800-222-1222

      This PDR+ drug information has been developed by the Physicians’ Desk Reference Network (PDRN), a source of medication information trusted by doctors for over 65 years.

      This monograph summarizes the most important information about your medication and does not cover all the information you may need. If you have any questions or concerns or want to learn more about your medication, ask your healthcare provider; he/she will be able to provide answers to your questions. This medication should only be used by the patient for whom it was prescribed and should not be shared with other people.
    • Additional patient resources.
      back to top Use your PDR® Pharmacy Discount Card when you or a family member fills a prescription and ask for your PDR® Discount every
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