for genital herpes
Consumer Medicine Information
What is in this leaflet
This leaflet answers some common questions about FAMVIR.
It does not contain all the available information. It does not take the place of talking to your doctor or pharmacist.
The information in this leaflet was last updated on the date listed on the final page.
Some more recent information on the medicine may be available.
You should ensure that you speak to your pharmacist or doctor to obtain the most up to date information on the medicine.
You can also download the most up to date leaflet from www.novartis.com.au. Those updates may contain important information about the medicine and its use of which you should be aware.
All medicines have risks and benefits. Your doctor has weighed the risks of you taking FAMVIR against the benefits it can provide.
If you have any concerns about this medicine, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Keep this leaflet with the medicine. You may need to read it again.
What FAMVIR is used for
FAMVIR is an antiviral medicine for adults and adolescents. It is used to treat outbreaks of genital herpes and also to suppress (prevent) recurrent outbreaks of the condition. Genital herpes is a viral infection caused by herpes simplex 1 or herpes simplex 2. It is usually transmitted through sexual contact.
Symptoms include tingling, burning or itching of the genitals, followed by blisters that may be painful.
People who have frequent episodes of genital herpes can also take FAMVIR to help prevent the attacks.
Although FAMVIR does not cure the viral infection, it helps to relieve the symptoms and shorten their duration.
The best results are obtained if the medicine is started as soon as possible after the first symptoms begin to appear.
Taking FAMVIR does not prevent you from spreading the herpes virus to another person.
Ask your doctor if you have any questions about why this medicine has been prescribed to you. Your doctor may have prescribed it for another reason.
FAMVIR is only available with a doctor's prescription. It is not addictive.
This medicine is not recommended for use in children under 12 years of age.
Before you take FAMVIR
When you must not take it
Do not take FAMVIR if you have an allergy to:
- famciclovir, the active ingredient
- penciclovir, a related antiviral medicine
- any of the other ingredients listed at the end of this leaflet
Some of the symptoms of an allergic reaction may include:
- shortness of breath, wheezing or difficulty breathing;
- swelling of the face, lips, tongue or other parts of the body;
- rash, itching or hives on the skin.
Do not take FAMVIR after the expiry date printed on the pack or if the packaging is torn or if it shows signs of tampering. In that case, return it to your pharmacist.
Before you start to take it
Tell your doctor if you have a problem with:
- your body's immune system, which helps to fight off infections
- your kidneys
- your liver
Your doctor may want to take extra precautions in that case.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, intend to become pregnant or if you are breast-feeding.
FAMVIR should not be used during pregnancy unless necessary. Your doctor will discuss with you the potential risks of taking FAMVIR during pregnancy, and will also advise you if you should take FAMVIR while breast-feeding, based on the benefits and risks of your personal situation.
Tell your doctor if you are lactose intolerant. FAMVIR 125 mg tablets and 250 mg tablets contains lactose. FAMVIR 500 mg tablets do not contain lactose.
Tell your doctor if you are allergic to any other medicines, foods, dyes or preservatives.
Your doctor will want to know if you are prone to allergies.
If you experience an allergic reaction, stop using the medicine and inform your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
Taking other medicines
Tell your doctor if you are taking any other medicines, including any that you buy without a prescription from a pharmacy, supermarket or health food shop.
Some medicines and FAMVIR may interfere with each other. These include:
- probenecid, a prescription medicine used to treat gout (a disease with painful, swollen joints caused by uric acid crystals) and to increase blood levels of penicillin-type antibiotics
- raloxifene, a medicine used to treat osteoporosis (a disease which causes bones to become less dense, gradually making them weaker, more brittle and likely to break)
- medicines that can affect your kidneys.
You may need to take different amounts of these medicines or you may need to take different medicines. Your doctor and pharmacist have more information.
If you have not told your doctor about any of these things, tell him/her before you start taking this medicine.
How to take FAMVIR
Swallow the tablets whole with a full glass of water.
The tablets may be taken with or without food. It is not necessary to chew or crush the tablet.
If you do not understand the instructions on the label, ask your doctor or pharmacist for help.
How much to take
Follow your doctor's instructions on how many FAMVIR tablets to take. These instructions may differ from the information contained in this leaflet.
Do not change the dose yourself, without your doctor's advice, regardless of how well you may feel.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure of the correct dose for you. They will tell you exactly how much to take.
For people whose immune system does not work as well as it should, the dose and duration of treatment may need to be increased.
For people who have kidney problems, your doctor may decide to give you a lower dose.
When to take it
There are different ways to take FAMVIR depending on your condition.
- TO TREAT AN OUTBREAK OF GENITAL HERPES
To treat an outbreak, take the tablets as soon as possible after the first symptoms of genital herpes appear.
The tablets are best taken within 6 hours of the first symptoms of genital herpes appearing.
There are three ways to take FAMVIR to treat an outbreak of genital herpes and your doctor will tell you which regimen is best for you:
– Two 500 mg FAMVIR tablets twice daily for one day
– Two 250 mg FAMVIR tablets to start with, followed by one 250 mg tablet every 12 hours for the next 3 doses
– One 125 mg FAMVIR tablet every 12 hours for 5 days
Take the second dose (and subsequent doses, if applicable) 12 hours after the first dose, or as close as possible to 12 hours during waking hours.
If you take the first dose in the late morning or early afternoon, you can take the next dose before going to bed, but do not take any doses less than 6 hours apart.
During normal waking hours, take any remaining doses at 12 hourly intervals.
Your doctor may have prescribed a different dose.
- TO SUPPRESS (PREVENT) OUTBREAKS OF RECURRENT GENITAL HERPES
Start suppressive treatment to prevent outbreaks of recurrent genital herpes as soon as possible after you have your FAMVIR prescription filled.
Take one 250 mg FAMVIR tablet twice each day.
Continue to take one 250 mg FAMVIR tablet twice each day for as long as your doctor tells you to. Do this even if you do not have an outbreak.
This medicine helps to control your condition but does not cure it. Your doctor will tell you when you can stop.
Fill your next repeat prescription before using all of the tablets in your current carton. This will ensure that your treatment can be continued and give you the best results.
Try to take the tablets at about the same times each day, as directed by your doctor or pharmacist. Taking your tablet at the same times each day will have the best effect. It will also help you remember when to take the tablets.
How long to take it
Continue taking FAMVIR every day for as long as your doctor tells you.
To help clear up your infection, you must keep taking this medicine, even if your symptoms begin to clear up after a few days.
To prevent recurrent episodes of genital herpes, you must take the tablets each day, even if you have no symptoms.
It is important to keep taking your medicine even if you feel well.
If you forget to take it
Take a dose as soon as you remember. Take your next tablet at the usual time, and then go back to taking it as you would normally.
Do not take two doses within a time frame of less than one hour. In that case, skip the missed dose.
Do not take a double dose to make up for the one that you missed. This may increase the chance of you getting an unwanted side effect.
If you have trouble remembering when to take your medicine, ask your pharmacist for some hints.
If you take too much (Overdose)
Immediately telephone your doctor or the Poisons Information Centre (telephone number 13 11 26), or go to Accident and Emergency at your nearest hospital if you think that you or anyone else may have taken too much FAMVIR. Show them your pack of tablets. Do this even if there are no signs of discomfort or poisoning. Keep the telephone numbers for these places handy.
Taking too much FAMVIR may affect your kidneys. In people who already have kidney problems it may, rarely, lead to kidney failure if their dose is not correctly lowered.
While you are taking FAMVIR
Things you must do
If you become pregnant while taking FAMVIR, tell your doctor. Your doctor can discuss with you the risks of taking it while you are pregnant.
If you are about to be started on any new medicine, remind your doctor and pharmacist that you are taking FAMVIR.
Tell any other doctor, dentist or pharmacist who treats you that you are taking FAMVIR.
Things you must not do
Do not give this medicine to anyone else even if their condition seems to be the same as yours.
Do not use it to treat any other complaints unless your doctor tells you to.
Do not stop taking your tablets or change the dosage without checking with your doctor first. If you stop your tablets suddenly, your condition may worsen or you may have unwanted side effects.
Things to be careful of
If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice before taking any medicine.
Be careful driving, operating machinery or doing jobs that require you to be alert until you know how FAMVIR affects you. This medicine can cause dizziness, sleepiness or confusion.
Practice "safer sex", including the use of condoms, when symptoms are present, even if you have started taking FAMVIR. This is important to prevent you passing the infection on to others.
Things that may help your condition
Take the following precautions to help manage your condition:
- Use condoms between episodes to reduce the risk of infecting your partner
- Keep the areas affected by the virus as clean and dry as possible
- Wear loose-fitting clothing to avoid irritating the blisters
- Avoid touching or scratching the sore area as you may spread the virus on your fingers.
Tell your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible if you do not feel well while you are taking FAMVIR.
All medicines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, most of the time they are not. You may need medical treatment if you get some of the side effects.
Do not be alarmed by these lists of possible side effects. You may not experience any of them.
Tell your doctor if you notice any of the following side effects and they worry you:
- nausea (feeling sick) or vomiting
- abdominal pain
- itching or an itchy rash (urticaria)
- abnormal liver function test results
The above side effects are usually mild.
Tell your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any of the following:
- a rash on other parts of your body
- extreme sleepiness or confusion, usually in older people
- hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not really there)
- painful or swollen joints
- aching muscles or muscle tenderness or weakness that is not caused by exercise
- yellowing of the skin or eyes (signs of jaundice)
- palpitations (signs of abnormal heart beat)
The above side effects may need medical attention.
Tell your doctor immediately or go to Accident and Emergency at your nearest hospital if any of the following side effects happen to you:
- swelling below the surface of the skin (e.g. swelling around the face, eye, eyelid or throat)
- unexplained bruising, reddish or purplish patches on the skin or bleeding more easily than usual as it may indicate that the number of platelets (a type of blood cell responsible for blood clotting) in your blood are reduced
- severe blistering of the skin or mucous membranes of the lips, eyes, mouth, nasal passages or genitals (signs of a serious skin reaction)
- purple patches, itching, burning of the skin (signs of inflamed blood vessels)
- seizures or fits
- difficulty breathing or swallowing, wheezing or coughing, light-headedness, changes in alertness, skin reddening, facial/throat swelling, blue discoloration of the lips, tongue or skin (signs of severe allergic reaction).
The above side effects are very rare.
Tell your doctor if you notice anything else that is making you feel unwell. Other side effects not listed here or not yet known may happen in some people.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist to answer any questions you may have.
After using FAMVIR
Keep your medicine in the original container until it is time to take it.
Store your FAMVIR tablets in a dry place at room temperature.
Do not store your medicines in the bathroom or near a sink.
Do not leave the tablets in the car or on window sills. Heat and dampness can destroy some medicines. FAMVIR® tablets will keep best if they are stored cool and dry.
Keep the medicine where children cannot reach it. A locked cupboard at least one-and-a-half metres above the ground is a good place to store medicines.
If your doctor tells you to stop taking this medicine or the expiry date has passed, ask your pharmacist what to do with any medicine that you have left over.
What it looks like
FAMVIR comes in three tablet strengths for the treatment of genital herpes:
- FAMVIR 125 mg tablets are white, round, film-coated tablets, marked with "FV" on one side and "125" on the other. Each carton contains 40 tablets.
- FAMVIR 250 mg tablets are white, round, film-coated tablets, marked with "FV" on one side and "250" on the other. Each carton contains either 20 or 56 tablets.
- FAMVIR 500 mg tablets are white, oval, film-coated tablets with "FV 500" on one side. Each carton contains 56 tablets.
FAMVIR 125 – contain 125 mg famciclovir per tablet
FAMVIR 250 – contain 250 mg famciclovir per tablet.
FAMVIR 500 – contain 500 mg famciclovir per tablet.
All FAMVIR tablets contain the following inactive ingredients:
- hypromellose (E 464)
- hydroxypropylcellulose (E 463)
- magnesium stearate (E 572)
- sodium starch glycollate
- titanium dioxide (E171, CI 77989)
FAMVIR 125 and 250 mg tablets also contain:
FAMVIR 500 mg tablets do not contain lactose.
All FAMVIR tablets do not contain sucrose, gluten, tartrazine or any other azo dyes.
For more information about genital herpes, visit www.herpes.com.au.
FAMVIR is supplied in Australia by:
NOVARTIS Pharmaceuticals Australia Pty Limited
ABN 18 004 244 160
54 Waterloo Road
Macquarie Park NSW 2113
Telephone 1 800 671 203
Web site: www.novartis.com.au
®= Registered Trademark
This leaflet was prepared in August 2016.
Australian Registration Numbers:
FAMVIR 125 mg AUST R 54668
FAMVIR 250 mg AUST R 51389
FAMVIR 500 mg AUST R 67391
(fam160816c_genital.doc) based on PI (fam160816i.doc)
Published by MIMS February 2017