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June 11, 1982

How will patients use acyclovir to treat herpes?

JAMA. 1982;247(22):3040-3045. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320470006003

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With the availability of the first topical agent to show any efficacy in herpes genitalis, desperate patients with recurrent herpes infections may practice self-medication—not surprisingly—once they have a prescription for the agent. But some herpes experts believe that widespread long-term use of the drug—which is only indicated for initial herpes infections and for genital and labial herpes in immunocompromised patients—may facilitate the emergence of resistant organisms and limit the agent's future usefulness in life-threatening situations.

Recent Food and Drug Administration approval and marketing of the antiviral agent acyclovir (Zovirax, Burroughs Wellcome Company, Research Triangle Park, NC) will raise the hopes of many US patients afflicted with recurrent venereal herpes, predicts Andre Nahmias, MD, chief of infectious diseases, allergy, and immunology at Emory University, Atlanta. "Some people will apply it four to six times a day [treatment of initial infections is six applications per day for seven days], thinking they will