Active Ingredients: Valacyclovir

Valacyclovir is a “pro-drug” of acyclovir and has been approved specifically for the treatment of herpes in HIV-positive people. Unlike acyclovir, valacyclovir needs to be broken down by the body before its active ingredient—acyclovir—can begin controlling the disease. This allows for higher amounts of acyclovir to remain in the body, thus requiring a lower dose of the drug to be taken by mouth. For mild to moderate herpes flare-ups, valacyclovir only needs to be taken once a day by mouth (1,000mg every day). For episodic therapy, valacyclovir is taken for seven to ten days. However, the drug can be taken every day for a prolonged period of time using half the dose needed to treat flare-ups (500mg every day). Like acyclovir, valacyclovir rarely causes side effects.

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What are valacyclovir caplets?
VALACYCLOVIR (Valtrex®) is an antiviral agent. Valacyclovir treats herpes zoster infection (shingles) or genital herpes infection. Valacyclovir is not a cure; it will help the sores heal faster and relieve the pain or discomfort. Valacyclovir can also be used to help prevent a genital herpes infection from coming back. Valacyclovir might help prevent genital herpes from being passed on to a partner who does not have genital herpes if it is used with 'safer sex' practices. Generic valacyclovir caplets are not yet available.

What should my health care professional know before I take valacyclovir?
They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
•acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
•any other condition that may weaken the immune system
•kidney disease
•an unusual or allergic reaction to valacyclovir, acyclovir, ganciclovir, valganciclovir, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
•pregnant or trying to get pregnant

How should I take this medicine?
Take valacyclovir caplets by mouth. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Swallow whole with a full glass of water. You can take valacyclovir with or without food. Take your doses at regular intervals. Do not take your medicine more often than directed. Finish the full course prescribed by your prescriber or health care professional even if you think your condition is better. Do not stop taking except on your prescriber's advice.

Contact your pediatrician or health care professional regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed.

What if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.

What drug(s) may interact with valacyclovir?

Tell your prescriber or health care professional about all other medicines you are taking, including non-prescription medicines, nutritional supplements, or herbal products. Also tell your prescriber or health care professional if you are a frequent user of drinks with caffeine or alcohol, if you smoke, or if you use illegal drugs. These may affect the way your medicine works. Check with your health care professional before stopping or starting any of your medicines.

What side effects may I notice from taking valacyclovir?
Side effects that you should report to your prescriber or health care professional as soon as possible:
•changes in your menstrual cycle
•reduced amount of urine passed
•skin rash
•stomach pain
•unusual weakness or tiredness

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your prescriber or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):
•bone pain
•nausea, vomiting

What should I watch for while taking valacyclovir?
Tell your prescriber or health care professional if your symptoms do not improve after 1 week.

Valacyclovir works best when taken early in the course of an infection, preferably within the first 72 hours. Begin treatment as soon as possible after the first signs of infection (such as tingling, itching, or pain in the affected area).

Valacyclovir may be helpful in preventing the spread of infection to others. Valacyclovir will only help prevent the spread of genital herpes if you use 'safer sex' practices. Safer sex practices include not having sexual contact with your partner when you have any symptom or outbreak of genital herpes and using a condom made of latex or polyurethane whenever you have sexual contact.

Where can I keep my medicine?
Keep out of the reach of children in a container that small children cannot open.

Store at room temperature between 15 and 25 degrees C (59 and 77 degrees F). Protect from light and moisture. Throw away any unused medicine after the expiration date.