Twiss J, McKenna SP, Bloch M, Bonney M. Patient and clinician perceived benefit of early consumption of famciclovir for the treatment of herpes outbreaks. Poster presented at the 2011 ISPOR 14th Annual European Congress; November 2011. Madrid, Spain. [abstract] Value Health. 2011 Nov; 14(7):A266. doi: 10.1016/j.jval.2011.08.193.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of the study was to conduct secondary analyses of trial data to determine whether taking famciclovir within 12 hours of first perceiving the symptoms of genital herpes was related to decreased outbreak severity and improved healing.

METHODS: Data were derived from a double-blind, randomised, active-controlled study of patient-initiated therapy comparing a 2-day course of famciclovir with a 5-day course (total dose 1,50 mg in both courses) in adults with genital herpes. Patients completed the Herpes Symptoms Checklist (HSC) on each day of the five day study period. The proportion of patients healed (without lesions) at day 5 was also determined.

RESULTS: Data were available for 501 patients (male = 58.5%; mean age (sd) =  39.2 (11.6) yrs). For the combined treatment groups, patients who took their medication within 12 hours had significantly lower HSC scores on day 1 (within 12 hours, median HSC= 6; above 12 hours, median HSC= 8; Mann-Whitney U= 12,733.5, p less than 0.05). Patients who took their medication within 12 hours also had significantly lower HSC area under the curve scores for the 5 day study period (AUC; within 12 hours, median HSC= 3.8; above 12 hours, median HSC= 5.1; Mann-Whitney U= 12,751.0, p less than 0.05). These differences were not apparent for the treatment groups separately. There was a significant association between the time at which the patients took their medication and whether or not they were healed at day 5 for the combined sample (Chi-square = 4.95, p less than 0.05). This finding was also observed for the 2-day treatment group (Chi-square = 6.11, p less than 0.05) but not for the 5-day treatment group (Chi-square = 0.49, p = 0.48).

CONCLUSIONS: Taking famciclovir within 12 hours of first becoming aware of genital herpes symptoms is associated with decreased symptom severity and speed of healing. The 2-day treatment, when taken within 12 hours, is associated with a higher rate of healing by day 5.

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