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J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2005 Jan;19(1):47-55.

Brivudin compared with famciclovir in the treatment of herpes zoster: effects in acute disease and chronic pain in immunocompetent patients. A randomized, double-blind, multinational study.

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Dermatological Department, Klinikum Krefeld, Krefeld, Germany.



This was a double-blind, randomized multicentre trial comparing efficacy and safety of brivudin (125 mg, once a day) and famciclovir (250 mg, three times a day), both given orally for 7 days, in the treatment of herpes zoster.


A total of 2027 immunocompetent zoster patients>or=50 years with zoster-related pain at presentation were included. Outcome measures embraced prevalence of postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), defined as at least moderate pain 3 months after treatment initiation, duration of PHN, prevalence and duration of zoster-associated pain (ZAP), duration of vesicle formation and rash healing.


The prevalence of PHN at month 3 was 11.3% with brivudin and 9.6% with famciclovir [per-protocol (PP) population]. Equivalence of the two drugs could be demonstrated (P=0.01, PP and intention-to-treat analysis). The median duration of PHN was 46.5 days with brivudin and 58 days with famciclovir (P=0.54, PP analysis). Prevalence and duration of ZAP did not differ significantly between treatment groups. The prevalence of PHN was higher in patients>or=65 years (brivudin: 16.4%, famciclovir: 16.4%), and in patients with severe rash (brivudin: 13.4%, famciclovir: 15.7%), without significant differences between treatment groups. In patients>or=65 years, median duration of PHN was shorter with brivudin than with famciclovir (39.5 vs. 57.5 days), although the difference was not statistically significant. The two drugs had equivalent efficacy in being able to accelerate the stop of vesicle formation, and lesion healing. Adverse events were similar in nature and prevalence among groups.


The study demonstrated equivalent efficacy of brivudin and famciclovir in the treatment of herpes zoster regarding the prevention of chronic pain and the resolution of signs and symptoms of acute herpes zoster. Compared with famciclovir, brivudin provides equivalent efficacy and safety at a more convenient once-daily dose schedule.

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