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Valacyclovir

Pronunciation

Generic Name: valacyclovir (VAL-ay-SYE-kloe-vir)
Brand Name: Valtrex

Valacyclovir is used for:

Treating shingles (herpes zoster), cold sores (fever blisters or herpes labialis), and treating, suppressing, or reducing transmission of genital herpes in patients with healthy immune systems. It is also used to treat chickenpox in children and teenagers. It is also used to suppress genital herpes in patients with HIV infection.

Valacyclovir is an antiviral. It works by stopping viral replication. However, valacyclovir does not eliminate the virus; it is not a cure. When used as a suppressive therapy in patients with healthy immune systems with genital herpes using safer sex practices, the risk of spreading the infections to others is reduced.

Do NOT use valacyclovir if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in valacyclovir or to acyclovir

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Slideshow: Flashback: FDA Drug Approvals 2013

Before using valacyclovir:

Some medical conditions may interact with valacyclovir. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have had a bone marrow or kidney transplant
  • if you have HIV or AIDS
  • if you have kidney problems or you are dehydrated

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with valacyclovir. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Medicines that may harm the kidney (eg, aminoglycoside antibiotics [eg, gentamicin], amphotericin B, cyclosporine, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDS] [eg, ibuprofen], tacrolimus, vancomycin) because the risk of kidney side effects may be increased. Ask your doctor if you are unsure if any of your medicines might harm the kidney

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if valacyclovir may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use valacyclovir:

Use valacyclovir as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Take valacyclovir by mouth with or without food. If stomach upset occurs, take with food to reduce stomach irritation.
  • Drinking extra fluids while you are taking valacyclovir is recommended. Check with your doctor for instructions.
  • To treat cold sores, chickenpox, shingles, or genital herpes, start treatment as soon as possible after your symptoms start.
  • If treating an acute outbreak, use valacyclovir for the full course of treatment. Keep using it even if you feel better in a few days.
  • For suppressive therapy, valacyclovir works best if it is taken at the same time each day.
  • If you miss a dose of valacyclovir, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use valacyclovir.

Important safety information:

  • Valacyclovir may cause dizziness. This effect may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use valacyclovir with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • Valacyclovir is not a cure for herpes. Remain under the care of your doctor.
  • Safer sex practices can lower the chances of passing genital herpes to your partner. Do not have sexual contact with your partner when you have any symptoms or outbreak of genital herpes. Use a condom made of latex or polyurethane whenever you have sexual contact.
  • Valacyclovir has not been shown to decrease the risk of passing other sexually transmitted infections to your partner.
  • Lab tests, including complete blood cell counts, kidney function, and liver function, may be performed while you use valacyclovir. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Use valacyclovir with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially kidney and nervous system problems.
  • Valacyclovir should be used with extreme caution in CHILDREN younger than 2 years old; safety and effectiveness in these children have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you think you may be pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using valacyclovir while you are pregnant. Valacyclovir is found in breast milk. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you use valacyclovir, check with your doctor. Discuss any possible risks to your baby.

Possible side effects of valacyclovir:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Dizziness; headache; nausea; stomach pain; vomiting.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); agitation; aggressive behavior; bloody or dark urine; change in the amount of urine produced; confusion; depression; fatigue; fever; hallucinations; joint pain; lower back pain; painful menstrual periods; pale skin; pinpoint bruises; seizures; severe abdominal pain; severe or persistent headache; shaky movements; speech problems; swelling of the face, hands, feet, or entire body; unsteady movement; unusual bruising or bleeding; weakness; yellowing of the skin or eyes.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center (http://www.aapcc.org ), or emergency room immediately.

Proper storage of valacyclovir:

Store valacyclovir at room temperature, between 59 and 77 degrees F (15 and 25 degrees C). Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep valacyclovir out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about valacyclovir, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Valacyclovir is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take valacyclovir or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about valacyclovir. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to valacyclovir. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using valacyclovir.

Issue Date: September 3, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.003
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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