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MEDICINE MAY PREVENT REPEATED BOUTS OF HERPES IN NEW FIVE YEAR STUDY

 RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., May 17 /PRNewswire/ -- People with frequent outbreaks of genital herpes who take the antiherpes medicine acyclovir may significantly reduce their number of repeated attacks, according to a new study released today.
 The study, published in the May issue of the "Archives of Dermatology," followed 389 people who have taken Zovirax(R) (acyclovir) everyday for as long as five years to help determine the long term safety and efficacy of the drug in preventing genital herpes outbreaks.
 Before entering the study, which began in 1984, patients averaged 12 outbreaks of the disease per year. Results of the study showed that the majority of the patients who took Zovirax to prevent herpes flareups had no outbreaks during any one year period and one fifth had no repeat attacks over the entire five year period.
 "Recurrent genital herpes can cause significant physical discomfort and emotional stress," said Leonard H. Goldberg, MD, the lead author of the article and specialist in dermatology at The Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. "This study demonstrates the long-term safety and efficacy of Zovirax and provides a scientific basis for using the drug, over an extended period of time, in order to give appropriate patients more control over their disease."
 Genital herpes is a viral infection that may cause painful blisters and sores that tend to reappear over time. Some herpes patients can experience outbreaks as frequently as once a month or more. Zovirax may be used to manage these outbreaks on a suppressive or episodic treatment basis. Yearly patient reevaluations, to assess the need for continuing the medication, are recommended for those people taking it on a chronic basis.
 Study Details
 This long-term study of Zovirax was conducted at 24 sites in the United States and involved more than 1,100 patients who were experiencing six or more outbreaks of herpes per year. The first year of the study was placebo controlled and compared episodic use of Zovirax to daily suppressive use of the drug. The study was later amended to permit all patients to take Zovirax on a long term daily basis.
 At the fifth year of follow-up, data were available on 389 patients. Two hundred and ten patients received five years of suppressive therapy (400 mg twice a day, every day) and 179 people received one year of treatment for individual episodes (200 mg five times a day for five days) and four years of suppressive therapy.
 Study results showed that for each three month quarter during year five, between 86 - 90 percent of all patients remained recurrence free. The results also showed that the average number of recurrences per patient dropped dramatically during the first year of suppressive therapy and continued to decline over each successive year in both treatment groups. Of the patients receiving suppressive therapy for five years, the average number of recurrences dropped from 12.9 before the study to 1.7 at year one and to 0.8 during year five. It is not known to what extent the natural history of the disease relates to the continuing decline in recurrences over time.
 Safety Confirmed
 The study's authors also noted that the safety of long term suppressive therapy with Zovirax was excellent. Adverse experiences were minimal and were reported less frequently over time. The most common reported side effects during the first year were nausea, diarrhea, headache and rash. After the first year, less than two percent of patients reported any one side effect.
 Furthermore, there was no clinical evidence of viral resistance developing during the five year course of the trial. This indicates that long term daily use of Zovirax in this patient population is not likely to lead to the emergence of resistant viral strains that do not respond to therapy.
 Zovirax, available in capsule form since 1985, is the only oral antiviral medication proven effective for the management of initial and recurrent genital herpes. The medicine may be prescribed for use on a chronic basis to help prevent repeated attacks (suppressive therapy) in appropriate patients based on the severity, frequency or emotional impact of the disease. Zovirax may also be used at the first sign or symptom of an outbreak to treat each episode (episodic therapy).
 Zovirax is a product of Burroughs Wellcome Co., a research based pharmaceutical company located in Research Triangle Park, N.C. Burroughs Wellcome Co. is a member of the Wellcome Group which discovers, develops, produces and markets quality healthcare products worldwide.
 -0- 5/17/93
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: Full prescribing information available. Pronunciation Key: Brand name Zovirax (Zoh-VYE-racks)
 Generic name acyclovir (a-CY-clo-veer)
 /CONTACT: Doug Stokke of Burroughs Wellcome Co. 919-248-8611/


CO: Burroughs Wellcome Co. ST: North Carolina IN: MTC SU:

TM-LD -- NY006 -- 8981 05/17/93 08:02 EDT
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Date:May 17, 1993
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