Comparative study of the efficacy and safety of valaciclovir versus acyclovir in the treatment of herpes zoster

W. R. Lin, H. H. Lin, S. S.J. Lee, H. C. Tsai, C. K. Huang, S. R. Wann, Y. S. Chen, S. C. Chiang, M. Y. Yen, Y. C. Liu

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43 Citations (Scopus)


Acyclovir, a specific and selective inhibitor of the replication of Herpesviridae family, has well-documented efficacy and tolerability in the treatment of herpes zoster. Its limited oral bioavailability and short half-life, however, necessitates frequent dosing. Valaciclovir, the I-valyl ester of acyclovir, could be rapidly converted to acyclovir after oral administration, resulting in a three- to five-fold increase in acyclovir bioavailability compared with oral acyclovir in humans. Valaciclovir allows less frequent dosing and maintains the safety profiles of the parent drug. During the period from October 1996 through May 1998, a randomized, prospective study was performed in the Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital to compare the safety and efficacy of valaciclovir with acyclovir in the treatment of herpes zoster in Taiwanese patients. Patients presenting with herpes zoster within 72 h after the onset of rash were enrolled and randomized to receive one of the following treatments: 1000 mg valaciclovir three times daily for 7 days or acyclovir 800 mg five times daily for 7 days. Patients were followed up for 29 days beginning with the start of therapy. A total of 57 patients were enrolled and randomized to receive valaciclovir (n = 32) or acyclovir (n = 25). Five patients in the valaciclovir group and three in the acyclovir group did not complete the study. The intent-to-treat analysis (57 patients) showed that valaciclovir significantly accelerated the resolution of herpes zoster-associated pain compared with acyclovir; on day 29, the valaciclovir group was 23% superior to the acyclovir group. There was no clinically significant difference in the nature, frequency or severity of adverse events between these two groups, although one and three adverse events were reported in the acyclovir and valaciclovir group, respectively. Thus, we conclude that in the management of herpes zoster, valaciclovir accelerates the resolution of pain and offers a simpler dosing, and maintains the favorable safety profile of acyclovir.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-142
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Microbiology, Immunology and Infection
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Acyclovir
  • Herpes zoster
  • Valaciclovir

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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