Famvir is an antiviral medicine prescribed to treat genital herpes caused by herpes simplex virus-2, or HSV-2. Transmission of HSV-2 requires intimate contact while HSV-1 is transmitted orally. Famvir or generic Famciclovir may also be prescribed to prevent recurrences of genital herpes and to prevent HSV-2 infections in those individuals with compromised immune systems. The generic alternative is not manufactured by the company that makes the brand product.
When you take Famvir as instructed, it is converted into Penciclovir, another antiviral drug. Once it reaches inside infected cells of your body, Penciclovir transforms into a more active medicine that blocks the action of DNA polymerase. This is an essential enzyme that the virus needs in order to copy their genetic material called RNA, into DNA so they can multiply. This action will help to control the infection when it is active during outbreaks, but there is no cure.
Your doctor can also prescribe Famvir if you develop shingles, caused by the reactivation of the virus that caused chickenpox years earlier. If you get the varicella-zoster virus as an initial infection, it is chickenpox. The virus spreads through your bloodstream, infecting nerves cells of your cranial or spinal nerves and then can lay dormant.
The virus doesn’t always become active again, but if it does decide to “wake-up”; it makes its way down your nerve fibers to your skin and causes painful sores. Long after the shingles have disappeared, you may still have pain called post-herpetic neuralgia. Although there is no cure for HSV or shingles, it can provide relief, shorten the length of the illness, and prevent complications.
Explain other medical conditions or allergies you have to your doctor and list any Rx and drugs over-the-counter medicine and herbal or vitamin supplements you currently take or use so your doctor can determine if Famvir is the right medication for you. Combining Famvir or generic Famciclovir with other drugs could change its efficacy in your body.
Even though you are receiving treatment for a herpes infection, you are still contagious and can pass the virus on to others. You must take precautions to use effective protection against infecting your partner or spouse or becoming infected at times when the HSV-2 virus is in remission and abstain from sexual activity completely at the first sign an outbreak is coming. Outbreaks can last as long as 2-3 weeks before it is healed completely, while other outbreaks last a few days.
You should stop taking Famvir and call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following side effects: swelling or weight gain; shortness of breath; urinating less than usual or not at all; weakness; confusion; increased thirst.