This information is intended for use by health professionals
Zovirax® Tablets BP 800mg
Aciclovir 800mg BP
For the full list of excipients, see section 6.1.
Dispersible film coated tablet
Zovirax tablets 800 mg are indicated for the treatment of varicella (chickenpox) and herpes zoster (shingles) infections (excluding neonatal HSV and severe HSV infections in immunocompromised children).
Zovirax 800mg tablets is recommended in children over the age of 6.
Dosage in adults
:Treatment of varicella and herpes zoster infections:
800 mg Zovirax should be taken five times daily at approximately four-hourly intervals, omitting the night time dose. Treatment should continue for seven days.
In severely immunocompromised patients (e.g. after marrow transplant) or in patients with impaired absorption from the gut, consideration should be given to intravenous dosing.
Dosing should begin as early as possible after the start of an infection: Treatment of herpes zoster yields better results if initiated as soon as possible after the onset of the rash. Treatment of chickenpox in immunocompetent patients should begin within 24 hours after the onset of the rash.
Dosage in children:
Treatment of varicella infections
6 years and over: 800 mg Zovirax four times daily.
Treatment should continue for five days.
No specific data are available on the treatment of herpes zoster infections in immunocompetent children.
For treatment of neonatal herpes virus infections, intravenous acyclovir is recommended.
Dosage in the elderly
The possibility of renal impairment in the elderly must be considered and the dosage should be adjusted accordingly (see Dosage in renal impairment below).
Adequate hydration of elderly patients taking high oral doses of aciclovir should be maintained. Dosage in renal impairment
Caution is advised when administering aciclovir to patients with impaired renal function. Adequate hydration should be maintained.
In the treatment of herpes zoster infections it is recommended to adjust the dosage to 800 mg Aciclovir twice daily at approximately twelve-hourly intervals for patients with severe renal impairment (creatinine clearance less than 10 ml/minute) and to 800 mg Aciclovir three times daily at intervals of approximately eight hours for patients with moderate renal impairment (creatinine clearance in the range of 10-25 ml/minute).
Zovirax tablets are for oral administration and may be dispersed in a minimum of 50 ml of water or swallowed whole with a little water. Ensure that patients on high doses of aciclovir are adequately hydrated.
Hypersensitivity to aciclovir or valaciclovir, or to any of the excipients listed in section 6.1.
Use in patients with renal impairment and in elderly patients:
Aciclovir is eliminated by renal clearance, therefore the dose must be adjusted in patients with renal impairment (see 4.2 Posology and Method of Administration). Elderly patients are likely to have reduced renal function and therefore the need for dose adjustment must be considered in this group of patients. Both elderly patients and patients with renal impairment are at increased risk of developing neurological side effects and should be closely monitored for evidence of these effects. In the reported cases, these reactions were generally reversible on discontinuation of treatment (see 4.8 Undesirable Effects). Prolonged or repeated courses of aciclovir in severely immune-compromised individuals may result in the selection of virus strains with reduced sensitivity, which may not respond to continued aciclovir treatment (see section 5.1).Hydration status:
Care should be taken to maintain adequate hydration in patients receiving high doses of aciclovir.
The risk of renal impairment is increased by use with other nephrotoxic drugs.
The data currently available from clinical studies is not sufficient to conclude that treatment with aciclovir reduces the incidence of chickenpox-associated complications in immunocompetent patients.
Aciclovir is eliminated primarily unchanged in the urine via active renal tubular secretion. Any drugs administered concurrently that compete with this mechanism may increase aciclovir plasma concentrations. Probenecid and cimetidine increase the AUC of aciclovir by this mechanism, and reduce aciclovir renal clearance. Similarly increases in plasma AUCs of aciclovir and of the inactive metabolite of mycophenolate mofetil, an immunosuppresant agent used in transplant patients have been shown when the drugs are coadministered. However no dosage adjustment is necessary because of the wide therapeutic index of aciclovir.
An experimental study on five male subjects indicates that concomitant therapy with aciclovir increases AUC of totally administered theophylline
with approximately 50%. It is recommended to measure plasma concentrations during concomitant therapy with aciclovir.
The use of aciclovir should be considered only when the potential benefits outweigh the possibility of unknown risks.
A post-marketing aciclovir pregnancy registry has documented pregnancy outcomes in women exposed to any formulation of Zovirax. The registry findings have not shown an increase in the number of birth defects amongst Zovirax exposed subjects compared with the general population, and any birth defects showed no uniqueness or consistent pattern to suggest a common cause. Systemic administration of aciclovir in internationally accepted standard tests did not produce embryotoxic or teratogenic effects in rabbits, rats or mice. In a non-standard test in rats, foetal abnormalities were observed but only following such high subcutaneous doses that maternal toxicity was produced. The clinical relevance of these findings is uncertain.
Caution should however be exercised by balancing the potential benefits of treatment against any possible hazard. Findings from reproduction toxicology studies are included in Section 5.3.Breast-feeding
Following oral administration of 200 mg Zovirax five times a day, Aciclovir has been detected in breast milk at concentrations ranging from 0.6 to 4.1 times the corresponding plasma levels. These levels would potentially expose nursing infants to Aciclovir dosages of up to 0.3 mg/kg/day. Caution is therefore advised if Zovirax is to be administered to a nursing woman.
There is no information on the effect of aciclovir on human female fertility.
In a study of 20 male patients with normal sperm count, oral aciclovir administered at doses of up to 1g per day for up to six months has been shown to have no clinically significant effect on sperm count, motility or morphology.
See clinical studies in section 5.2
There have been no studies to investigate the effect of aciclovir on driving performance or the ability to operate machinery. A detrimental effect on such activities cannot be predicted from the pharmacology of the active substance, but the adverse event profile should be borne in mind.
The frequency categories associated with the adverse events below are estimates. For most events, suitable data for estimating incidence were not available. In addition, adverse events may vary in their incidence depending on the indication.
The following convention has been used for the classification of undesirable effects in terms of frequency:- Very common ≥1/10, common ≥1/100 and <1/10, uncommon ≥1/1000 and <1/100, rare ≥1/10,000 and <1/1000, very rare <1/10,000.
Blood and lymphatic system disorders:
Anaemia, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia.
Immune system disorders:
Psychiatric and nervous system disorders:
Headache, dizziness.Very rare:
Agitation, confusion, tremor, ataxia, dysarthria, hallucinations, psychotic symptoms, convulsions, somnolence, encephalopathy, coma.
The above events are generally reversible and usually reported in patients with renal impairment or with other predisposing factors (see 4.4 Special Warnings and Precautions for Use).
Respiratory, thoracic and mediastinal disorders:
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pains.
Reversible rises in bilirubin and liver related enzymes.Very rare:
Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders:
Pruritus, rashes (including photosensitivity).Uncommon:
Urticaria. Accelerated diffuse hair loss. Accelerated diffuse hair loss has been associated with a wide variety of disease processes and medicines, the relationship of the event to aciclovir therapy is uncertain.Rare:
Renal and urinary disorders:
Increases in blood urea and creatinine.Very rare:
Acute renal failure, renal pain.
Renal pain may be associated with renal failure and crystalluria.
General disorders and administration site conditions:
: Fatigue, fever.Reporting of suspected adverse reactions
Reporting suspected adverse reactions after authorisation of the medicinal product is important. It allows continued monitoring of the benefit/risk balance of the medicinal product. Healthcare professionals are asked to report any suspected adverse reactions via the Yellow Card Scheme at: .
Aciclovir is only partly absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract.
Patients have ingested overdoses of up to 20g aciclovir on a single occasion, usually without toxic effects. Accidental, repeated overdoses of oral aciclovir over several days have been associated with gastrointestinal effects (such as nausea and vomiting) and neurological effects (headache and confusion).
Overdosage of intravenous aciclovir has resulted in elevations of serum creatinine, blood urea nitrogen and subsequent renal failure. Neurological effects including confusion, hallucinations, agitation, seizures and coma have been described in association with intravenous overdosage.Management: patients should be observed closely for signs of toxicity. Haemodialysis significantly enhances the removal of aciclovir from the blood and may, therefore, be considered a management option in the event of symptomatic overdose.
Pharmacotherapeutic group: Direct acting antivirals, Nucleosides and nucleotides excl. reverse transcriptase inhibitors
ATC code: J05AB01.
Aciclovir is a synthetic purine nucleoside analogue with in vitro
and in vivo
inhibitory activity against human herpes viruses, including herpes simplex virus (HSV) types I and II and varicella zoster virus (VZV). The inhibitory activity of Aciclovir for HSV I and HSV II and VZV is highly selective. The enzyme thymidine kinase (TK) of normal, uninfected cells does not use Aciclovir effectively as a substrate, hence toxicity to mammalian host cells is low; however, TK encoded by HSV and VZV converts Aciclovir to Aciclovir monophosphate, a nucleoside analogue which is further converted to the diphosphate and finally to the triphosphate by cellular enzymes. Aciclovir triphosphate interferes with the viral DNA polymerase and inhibits viral DNA replication with resultant chain termination following its incorporation into the viral DNA.
Prolonged or repeated courses of Aciclovir in severely immuno-compromised individuals may result in the selection of virus strains with reduced sensitivity, which may not respond to continued Aciclovir treatment. Most of the clinical isolates with reduced sensitivity have been relatively deficient in viral TK, however, strains with altered viral TK or viral DNA polymerase have also been reported. In vitro
exposure of HSV isolates to Aciclovir can also lead to the emergence of less sensitive strains. The relationship between the in vitro
-determined sensitivity of HSV isolates and clinical response to Aciclovir therapy is not clear.
Aciclovir is only partially absorbed from the gut. Mean steady state peak plasma concentrations (Css
max) following doses of 800 mg Aciclovir administered four-hourly were 8 microMol (1.8 micrograms/ml) and equivalent trough plasma levels were 4 microMol (0.9 micrograms/ml).
In adults the terminal plasma half-life after administration of intravenous Aciclovir is about 2.9 hours. Most of the drug is excreted unchanged by the kidney. Renal clearance of Aciclovir is substantially greater than creatinine clearance, indicating that tubular secretion, in addition to glomerular filtration, contributes to the renal elimination of the drug. 9-carboxymethoxymethyl-guanine is the only significant metabolite of Aciclovir, and accounts for 10-15% of the dose excreted in the urine. When Aciclovir is given one hour after 1 gram of probenecid the terminal half-life and the area under the plasma concentration time curve is extended by 18% and 40% respectively.
In adults, mean steady state peak plasma concentrations (Css
max) following a one hour infusion of 2.5 mg/kg, 5 mg/kg and 10 mg/kg were 22.7 microMol (5.1 micrograms/ml), 43.6 microMol (9.8 micrograms/ml) and 92 microMol (20.7 micrograms/ml), respectively. The corresponding trough levels (Css
min) 7 hours later were 2.2 microMol (0.5 micrograms/ml), 3.1 microMol (0.7 micrograms/ml) and 10.2 microMol (2.3 micrograms/ml), respectively. In children over 1 year of age similar mean peak (Css
max) and trough (Css
min) levels were observed when a dose of 250 mg/m2
was substituted for 5 mg/kg and a dose of 500 mg/m2
was substituted for 10 mg/kg. In neonates and young infants (0 to 3 months of age) treated with doses of 10 mg/kg administered by infusion over a one-hour period every 8 hours the Css
max was found to be 61.2 microMol (13.8 micrograms/ml) and Css
min to be 10.1 microMol (2.3 micrograms/ml). The terminal plasma half-life in these patients was 3.8 hours. A separate group of neonates treated with 15 mg/kg every 8 hours showed approximate dose proportional increases, with a Cmax of 83.5 micromolar (18.8 microgram/ml) and Cmin of 14.1 micromolar (3.2 microgram/ml). In the elderly, total body clearance falls with increasing age associated with decreases in creatinine clearance although there is little change in the terminal plasma half-life.
In patients with chronic renal failure the mean terminal half-life was found to be 19.5 hours. The mean Aciclovir half-life during haemodialysis was 5.7 hours. Plasma Aciclovir levels dropped approximately 60% during dialysis.
Cerebrospinal fluid levels are approximately 50% of corresponding plasma levels. Plasma protein binding is relatively low (9 to 33%) and drug interactions involving binding site displacement are not anticipated.
:- The results of a wide range of mutagenicity tests in vitro
and in vivo
indicate that aciclovir is unlikely to pose a genetic risk to man. Carcinogenicity
:- Aciclovir was not found to be carcinogenic in long term studies in the rat and the mouse. Teratogenicity
:- Systemic administration of aciclovir in internationally accepted standard tests did not produce embryotoxic or teratogenic effects in rats, rabbits or mice.
In a non-standard test in rats, foetal abnormalities were observed, but only following such high subcutaneous doses that maternal toxicity was produced. The clinical relevance of these findings is uncertain.Fertility
:- Largely reversible adverse effects on spermatogenesis in association with overall toxicity in rats and dogs have been reported only at doses of aciclovir greatly in excess of those employed therapeutically. Two generation studies in mice did not reveal any effect of aciclovir on fertility.
Aluminium Magnesium Silicate
Sodium Starch Glycollate
Polyethylene glycol 400
Polyethylene Glycol 8000
Do not store above 30°C
Store in the original package.
PVC/Aluminium/ Paper child resistant foil blisterpack (5 tablets per blister strip)
Pack size : 35 tablets
PVC/Aluminium/ Paper child resistant foil blister sample pack.
Pack size: 5 and 2 tablets
Not all pack sizes may be marketed.
No special requirements.
Any unused medicinal product or waste material should be disposed of in accordance with local requirements.
The Wellcome Foundation Ltd
980 Great West Road
Date of first authorisation: 16 April 1992
Date of latest renewal: 07 January 2011