Same old acyclovir, but newfangled therapy, could improve the treatment outcomes of well known drug, acyclovir, in patients with labial herpes. The herpes simplex virus that causes labial herpes is the most widely spread of the herpes viruses but new and innovative administration techniques show that shorter outbreaks and longer periods between outbreaks are a welcome side effect. The latest method of delivery of this traditional treatment could even have an impact on the treatment of other herpes infections.

Phase III trial stage of a study carried out by a team at BioAlliance Pharma, which included 775 patients, is now complete, wherein a low dose of acyclovir (Sitavig) was administered to patients in a very interesting way. The results are exciting and have proved the drug safe and very effective for patients who suffer with outbreaks of this herpes virus. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved the drug for commercial release this year and, for the moment, it will only be available in the United States.

Results showed that when administered in the prodromal stage (between initial sign of infection and presence of a sore) that subsequent outbreaks were fewer and that the episode itself was shorter lasting than before. 50mg of acyclovir was administered in tablet form, which uses Lauriad technology in order to adhere the tablet to the gum above the front tooth on whatever side of the lip, the sore is present. This means the low dose of the drug affects the infection locally and with success. This adherence is enabled by the use of a milk protein which helps the tablet stick to the gum while also causing a slower release of the drug. It is thought that the lowering of the dose of acyclovir to 50mg from the traditional 400mg three times a day, is responsible for the decrease in the number of subsequent outbreaks post treatment, but this is not known for sure.

There has been other positive news on the herpes front in that drug, Truvada, which is traditionally a HIV drug that is also used as a pre-exposure prophyaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV infection, could have an impact on a decrease in the rates of genital herpes infection too. PrEP is taken in order to prevent the incidences of new HIV infections and, according to a recent study, looks like it has the ability to decrease herpes rates simultaneously. 131 heterosexual couples in serodiscordent relationships, i.e, where one partner is HIV positive and the other is not, were administered with PrEP and it transpired that there was a 30% decrease in infection rates of herpes while the treatment was being taken. PrEp is met with a lot of hostility as those who oppose its usage in the prevention of HIV spread, believe that it will inevitably cause an increase in the rate of sexually transmitted disease at the same time. Well, this double benefit might show them how by widening the population of PrEP users, it could also benefit the problem of increasing STI rates. PrEP is a viable option for both heterosexual and homosexual serodiscordent couples and at a time when, according to the latest Health Protection Agency figures, the number of STI diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) has been seen to have risen sharply in recent years and where the rate of genital herpes rates have risen by 7% across the board, it seems like a necessary precaution at this stage.

There are websites that are prepared to prescribe oral Aciclovir for cold sores (labial herpes) currently at the higher dose of 400 mg if your GP will not oblige.