POM: Prescription only medicine
This information is intended for use by health professionals
Varicella zoster virus (VZV) infections herpes zoster- Famciclovir is indicated for- the treatment of herpes zoster and ophthalmic zoster in immunocompetent adults (see section 4.4)- the treatment of herpes zoster in immunocompromised adults (see section 4.4)
Herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections genital herpesFamciclovir is indicated for- the treatment of first and recurrent episodes of genital herpes in immunocompetent adults- the treatment of recurrent episodes of genital herpes in immunocompromised adults- the suppression of recurrent genital herpes in immunocompetent and immunocompromised adultsClinical studies have not been conducted in HSV-infected patients immunocompromised for other causes than HIV-infection (see section 5.1).
Herpes zoster in immunocompetent adults500 mg three times daily for seven days.Treatment should be initiated as soon as possible after a diagnosis of herpes zoster.
Herpes zoster in immunocompromised adults500 mg three times daily for ten days.Treatment should be initiated as soon as possible after a diagnosis of herpes zoster.
Genital herpes in immunocompetent adultsFirst episode of genital herpes: 250 mg three times daily for five days. Initiation of treatment is recommended as soon as possible after a diagnosis of first episode of genital herpes.Episodic treatment of recurrent genital herpes: 125 mg twice daily for five days. Initiation of treatment is recommended as soon as possible after onset of prodromal symptoms (e.g. tingling, itching, burning, pain) or lesions.
Recurrent genital herpes in immunocompromised adultsEpisodic treatment of recurrent genital herpes: 500 mg twice daily for seven days. Initiation of treatment is recommended as soon as possible after onset of prodromal symptoms (e.g. tingling, itching, burning, pain) or lesions.
Suppression of recurrent genital herpes in immunocompetent adults250 mg twice daily. Suppressive therapy should be discontinued after a maximum of 12 months of continuous antiviral therapy to reassess recurrence frequency and severity. The minimum period of reassessment should include two recurrences. Patients who continue to have significant disease may restart suppressive therapy.
Suppression of recurrent genital herpes in immunocompromised adults500 mg twice daily.
Patients with renal impairmentBecause reduced clearance of penciclovir is related to reduced renal function, as measured by creatinine clearance, special attention should be given to doses in patients with impaired renal function. Dose recommendations for adult patients with renal impairment are provided in Table 1. Table 1 Dose recommendations for adult patients with renal impairment
|Indication and nominal dose regimen||Creatinine clearance [ml/min]||Adjusted dose regimen|
|Herpes zoster in immunocompetent adults|
|500 mg three times daily for 7 days||≥60 40 to 59 20 to 39 < 20 Haemodialysis patients||500 mg three times daily for 7 days 500 mg twice daily for 7 days 500 mg once daily for 7 days 250 mg once daily for 7 days 250 mg following each dialysis during 7 days|
|Herpes zoster in immunocompromised adults|
|500 mg three times daily for 10 days||≥60 40 to 59 20 to 39 < 20 Haemodialysis patients||500 mg three times daily for 10 days 500 mg twice daily for 10 days 500 mg once daily for 10 days 250 mg once daily for 10 days 250 mg following each dialysis during 10 days|
|Genital herpes in immunocompetent adults first episode of genital herpes|
|250 mg three times daily for 5 days||≥40 20 to 39 < 20 Haemodialysis patients||250 mg three times daily for 5 days 250 mg twice daily for 5 days 250 mg once daily for 5 days 250 mg following each dialysis during 5 days|
|Genital herpes in immunocompetent adults episodic treatment of recurrent genital herpes|
|125 mg twice daily for 5 days||≥20 < 20 Haemodialysis patients||125 mg twice daily for 5 days 125 mg once daily for 5 days 125 mg following each dialysis during 5 days|
|Genital herpes in immunocompromised adults-episodic treatment of recurrent genital herpes|
|500 mg twice daily for 7 days||≥40 20 to 39 < 20 Haemodialysis patients||500 mg twice daily for 7 days 500 mg once daily for 7 days 250 mg once daily for 7 days 250 mg following each dialysis during 7 days|
|Suppression of recurrent genital herpes in immunocompetent adults|
|250 mg twice daily||≥40 20 to 39 < 20 Haemodialysis patients||250 mg twice daily 125 mg twice daily 125 mg once daily 125 mg following each dialysis|
|Suppression of recurrent genital herpes in immunocompromised adults|
|500 mg twice daily||≥40 20 to 39 < 20 Haemodialysis patients||500 mg twice daily 500 mg once daily 250 mg once daily 250 mg following each dialysis|
Patients with renal impairment on haemodialysisSince 4 h haemodialysis resulted in up to 75% reduction in plasma penciclovir concentrations, famciclovir should be administered immediately following dialysis. The recommended dose regimens for haemodialysis patients are included in Table 1.
Patients with hepatic impairmentNo dose adjustment is required in patients with mild or moderate hepatic impairment. No data are available for patients with severe hepatic impairment (see sections 4.4 and 5.2).
Elderly patients (≥65 years)Dose modification is not required unless renal function is impaired.
Paediatric populationThe safety and efficacy of famciclovir in children and adolescents aged less than 18 years have not been established. Currently available data are described in sections 5.1 and 5.2.
Black patientsA placebo-controlled study in immunocompetent black patients with recurrent genital herpes showed no difference in efficacy between patients receiving famciclovir 1000 mg twice daily for one day and placebo. There were no unexpected or new safety finding in this trial in Black patients.This lack of efficacy in the one-day treatment regimen cannot be extrapolated to the five-day treatment regimen for recurrent genital herpes (125 mg twice daily for five days) or other indications in Black patients.
Method of administrationFamciclovir can be taken without regard to meals (see section 5.2).
Use in patients with renal impairmentIn patients with impaired renal function dose adjustment is necessary (see sections 4.2 and 4.9).
Use in patients with hepatic impairmentFamciclovir has not been studied in patients with severe hepatic impairment. Conversion of famciclovir to its active metabolite penciclovir may be impaired in these patients resulting in lower penciclovir plasma concentrations, and thus a decrease of efficacy of famciclovir may occur.
Use for zoster treatmentClinical response should be closely monitored, particularly in immunocompromised patients.Consideration should be given to intravenous antiviral therapy when response to oral therapy is considered insufficient.Patients with complicated herpes zoster, i.e. those with visceral involvement, disseminated zoster, motor neuropathies, encephalitis and cerebrovascular complications should be treated with intravenous antiviral therapy.Moreover, immunocompromised patients with ophthalmic zoster or those with a high risk for disease dissemination and visceral organ involvement should be treated with intravenous antiviral therapy.
Transmission of genital herpesPatients should be advised to avoid intercourse when symptoms are present even if treatment with an antiviral has been initiated. During suppressive treatment with antiviral agents, the frequency of viral shedding is significantly reduced. However, transmission is still possible. Therefore, in addition to therapy with famciclovir, it is recommended that patients use safer sex practices.
Effects of other medicinal products on famciclovirNo clinically significant interactions have been identified. Concurrent use of probenecid may result in increased plasma concentrations of penciclovir, the active metabolite of famciclovir, by competing for elimination.Therefore, patients receiving famciclovir at a dose of 500 mg three times daily co-administered with probenecid, should be monitored for toxicity. If patients experience severe dizziness, somnolence, confusion or other central nervous system disturbances, a dose reduction of famciclovir to 250 mg three times daily may be considered.Famciclovir needs aldehyde oxidase to be converted into penciclovir, its active metabolite. Raloxifen has been shown to be a potent inhibitor of this enzyme in vitro. Co-administration of raloxifene could affect the formation of penciclovir and thus the efficacy of famciclovir. When raloxifen is co-administered with famciclovir the clinical efficacy of the antiviral therapy should be monitored
PregnancyThere is a limited amount of data (less than 300 pregnancy outcomes) from the use of famciclovir in pregnant women. Based on these limited amounts of information, the cumulative analysis of both prospective and retrospective pregnancy cases did not provide evidence indicating that the product causes any specific foetal defect or congenital anomaly. Animal studies have not shown any embryotoxic or teratogenic effects with famciclovir or penciclovir (the active metabolite of famciclovir). Famciclovir should only be used during pregnancy when the potential benefits of treatment outweigh the potential risks.
LactationIt is unknown whether famciclovir is excreted in human breast milk. Animal studies have shown excretion of penciclovir in breast milk. If the woman's condition mandates treatment with famciclovir, discontinuation of breast-feeding may be considered.
FertilityClinical data do not indicate an impact of famciclovir on male fertility following long-term treatment at an oral dose of 250 mg twice daily (see section 5.3).
|Blood and lymphatic system disorders|
|Nervous system disorders|
|Common:||Abnormal liver function tests.|
|Skin and subcutaneous tissue disorders|
|Uncommon:||Urticaria, serious skin reactions* (e.g. erythema multiforme, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis), angioedema, (e.g. face oedema, eyelid oedema, periorbital oedema, pharyngeal oedema).|
Mechanism of actionFamciclovir is the oral prodrug of penciclovir. Famciclovir is rapidly converted in vivo into penciclovir, which has in vitro activity against herpes simplex viruses (HSV types 1 and 2), varicella zoster virus, Epstein-Barr virus and cytomegalovirus.The antiviral effect of orally administered famciclovir has been demonstrated in several animal models: this effect is due to in vivo conversion to penciclovir. In virus-infected cells the viral thymidine kinase (TK) phosphorylates penciclovir to a monophosphate form that, in turn, is converted to penciclovir triphosphate by cellular kinases. This triphosphate persists in infected cells in excess of 12 hours and inhibits viral DNA chain elongation by competitive inhibition with deoxyguanosine triphosphate for incorporation into the growing viral DNA, thus halting virus replication of viral DNA. In uninfected cells treated with penciclovir, concentrations of penciclovir-triphosphate are only barely detectable. Hence the probability of toxicity to mammalian host cells is low and uninfected cells are unlikely to be affected by therapeutic concentrations of penciclovir.
ResistanceLike aciclovir, the most common form of resistance encountered among HSV strains is a deficiency in the production of the thymidine kinase (TK) enzyme. Such TK deficient strains would generally be expected to be cross-resistant to both penciclovir and aciclovir.Results from 11 worldwide clinical studies involving penciclovir (topical or intravenous formulations) or famciclovir in immunocompetent or immunocompromised patients, including studies of up to 12 months treatment with famciclovir, have shown a small overall frequency of penciclovir resistant isolates: 0.2% (2/913) in immunocompetent patients and 2.1% (6/288) in immunocompromised patients. The resistant isolates were mostly found at the start of treatment or in a placebo group, with resistance occurring on or after treatment with famciclovir or penciclovir only in two immunocompromised patients.
Clinical efficacyIn placebo-controlled and active-controlled studies both in immunocompetent and immunocompromised patients with uncomplicated herpes zoster, famciclovir was effective in the resolution of lesions. In an active-controlled clinical study, famciclovir was shown to be effective in the treatment of ophthalmic zoster in immunocompetent patients.Efficacy of famciclovir in immunocompetent patients with first episode of genital herpes was shown in three active-controlled studies. Two placebo-controlled studies in immunocompetent patients and one-active controlled study in HIV-infected patients with recurrent genital herpes showed that famciclovir was effective.Two placebo-controlled 12-month studies in immunocompetent patients with recurrent genital herpes showed that famciclovir-treated patients had a significant reduction of recurrences as compared to placebo-treated patients. Placebo-controlled and uncontrolled studies of up to 16 weeks duration showed that famciclovir was effective in the suppression of recurrent genital herpes in HIV-infected patients; the placebo-controlled study showed that famciclovir significantly decreased the proportion of days of both symptomatic and asymptomatic HSV shedding.
Paediatric populationFamciclovir experimental oral granules were evaluated in 169 paediatric patients 1 month to ≤12 years of age. One hundred of these patients were 1 to ≤12 years of age and were treated with famciclovir oral granules (doses ranged from 150 mg to 500 mg) either twice (47 patients with herpes simplex virus infections) or three times (53 patients with chickenpox) daily for 7 days. The remaining 69 patients (18 patients 1 to ≤12 months, 51 patients 1 to ≤12 years) participated in single-dose pharmacokinetic and safety studies using famciclovir oral granules (doses ranged from 25 mg to 500 mg). Famciclovir weight-based doses were selected to provide penciclovir systemic exposures similar to the penciclovir systemic exposures observed in adults after administration of 500 mg famciclovir. One of these studies comprised a control group; therefore a conclusion on the efficacy of the investigated regimens is not possible. The safety profile was similar to that seen in adults. However, systemic drug exposure in infants < 6 months of age was low, thus precluding any assessment of famciclovir's safety in this age group.
AbsorptionFamciclovir is the oral prodrug of the antivirally active compound penciclovir. Following oral administration, famciclovir is rapidly and extensively absorbed and converted to penciclovir.Bioavailability of penciclovir after oral administration of famciclovir was 77%. Mean peak plasma concentration of penciclovir, following a 125 mg, 250 mg, 500 mg and 750 mg oral dose of famciclovir, was 0.8 microgram/ml, 1.6 micrograms/ml, 3.3 micrograms/ml and 5.1 micrograms/ml, respectively, and occurred at a median time of 45 minutes post-dose.Plasma concentration-time curves of penciclovir are similar following single and repeat (t.i.d. and b.i.d.) dosing, indicating that there is no accumulation of penciclovir on repeated dosing with famciclovir.The extent of systemic availability (AUC) of penciclovir from oral famciclovir is unaffected by food.
DistributionPenciclovir and its 6-deoxy precursor are poorly (< 20%) bound to plasma proteins.
Metabolism and eliminationFamciclovir is eliminated principally as penciclovir and its 6-deoxy precursor, which are excreted in urine. No unchanged famciclovir has been detected in urine. Tubular secretion contributes to the renal elimination of penciclovir.The terminal plasma half-life of penciclovir after both single and repeat dosing with famciclovir was approximately 2 hours.Evidence from preclinical studies has shown no potential for induction of cytochrome P450 enzymes and inhibition of CYP3A4.
Characteristics in special populations
Patients with herpes zoster infectionUncomplicated herpes zoster infection does not significantly alter the pharmacokinetics of penciclovir measured after the oral administration of famciclovir. The terminal plasma half-life of penciclovir in patients with herpes zoster was 2.8 h and 2.7 h, respectively, after single and repeated dosing of famciclovir.
Subjects with renal impairmentThe apparent plasma clearance, renal clearance, and plasma elimination rate constant of penciclovir decreased linearly with reductions in renal function, both after single and repeated dosing. Dose adjustment is necessary in patients with renal impairment (see section 4.2).
Subjects with hepatic impairmentMild and moderate hepatic impairment had no effect on the extent of systemic availability of penciclovir following oral administration of famciclovir. No dose adjustment is recommended for patients with mild and moderate hepatic impairment (see sections 4.2 and 4.4). The pharmacokinetics of penciclovir have not been evaluated in patients with severe hepatic impairment. Conversion of famciclovir to the active metabolite penciclovir may be impaired in these patients resulting in lower penciclovir plasma concentrations, and thus possibly a decrease of efficacy of famciclovir.
Elderly patients (≥65 years)Based on cross-study comparisons, the mean penciclovir AUC was about 30% higher and penciclovir renal clearance about 20% lower after oral administration of famciclovir in elderly volunteers (65-79 years) compared to younger volunteers. Partly this difference may be due to differences in renal function between the two age groups. No dose adjustment based on age is recommended unless renal function is impaired (see section 4.2).
Paediatric populationRepeated oral dosing of famciclovir (250 or 500 mg three times daily) to paediatric patients (6-11 years) infected with hepatitis B did not have a notable effect on the pharmacokinetics of penciclovir compared to single dose data. There was no accumulation of penciclovir.In children (1-12 years) with herpes simplex virus infection or chickenpox given single oral doses of famciclovir (see section 5.1), the apparent clearance of penciclovir increased with body weight in a nonlinear manner. The plasma elimination half-life of penciclovir tended to decrease with decreasing age, from an average of 1.6 hours in the patients aged 6-12 years to 1.2 hours in patients aged 1-<2 years.
GenderSmall differences in renal clearance of penciclovir between females and males have been reported and were attributed to gender differences in renal function. No dose adjustment based on gender is recommended.
General toxicityStudies on safety pharmacology and repeated dose toxicity reveal no special hazard for humans.
GenotoxicityFamciclovir was not found to be genotoxic in a comprehensive battery of in vivo and in vitro tests designed to detect gene mutation, chromosomal damage and repairable damage to DNA. Penciclovir, in common with other substances of this class, has been shown to cause chromosomal damage, but did not induce gene mutation in bacterial or mammalian cell systems, nor was there evidence of increased DNA repair in vitro.
CarcinogenicityAt high doses in female rats, there was an increased incidence of mammary adenocarcinoma, a tumour commonly observed in the strain of rats used in the carcinogenicity study. There was no effect on the incidence of neoplasia in male rats or in mice of either sex.
Reproductive toxicityImpaired fertility (including histopathological changes in the testis, altered sperm morphology, reduced sperm concentration and motility, and reduced fertility) was observed in male rats given 500 mg/kg/day. Furthermore, degenerative changes of the testicular epithelium were noted in the general toxicity studies. This finding was reversible and has also been observed with other substances of this class. Animal studies did not indicate any negative effect on female fertility.
Tablet core:Sodium starch glycollate (Type A)Microcrystalline celluloseHydroxypropylcelluloseMagnesium stearate
Tablet coatPolyvinyl alcohol Titanium dioxide (E-171)Macrogol 3350 Talc