Famvir is an effective tablet treatment for genital herpes and shingles. It is useful at treating initial outbreaks of the virus, and is also useful at limiting the severity of recurrences.


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PLEASE NOTE: This treatment is not available through our online pharmacy service. This page is for information only. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms related to the condition(s) this medication treats, we strongly recommend that you see your GP in person.

Famvir is a brand of medicine indicated for the treatment of herpes simplex virus type 2, or genital herpes. It is an antiviral drug, belonging to the guanosine analogue family of medicine, and is manufactured by Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis. The medicine has also been used to medicate cases of shingles (herpes zoster) and recurrent outbreaks of herpes simplex in individuals with compromised immune systems. When applied during the early stages of reactivation, the medication can be very effective at curbing the expansion of symptoms.

  1. Proficient at tackling genital herpes.
  2. Gets to work quickly to limit symptoms.
  3. Only needs to be taken 2-3 times a day.

Herpes simplex virus type 2 is most commonly transmitted through sexual contact. It manifests in the form of genital sores and blistering, but may not present these symptoms immediately. In many cases, the illness can remain inactive in a person’s body for months, or even years following infection. After the initial outbreak of symptoms has passed, the illness may appear to go away, however it does not. The virus remains present, with reactivations tending to occur when the immune system of the individual goes through periods of weakness.

The virus is at its most infectious when it is active, particularly after the surfaces of sores and blisters have broken. After this, it remains highly contagious until symptoms have completely healed. During this time it is advisable to avoid sexual contact with others.

Famvir works by stopping cells infected with the virus from spreading. It does this by inhibiting the virus’s capacity to reproduce itself. When the virus is prevented from achieving further growth, this leaves it susceptible to attack from the immune system, which then forces the virus into a remissive state.

The treatment is available in a variety of doses, and the level you are prescribed will depend on the type of infection you are experiencing, and how sensitive you are to possible side effects.

Famvir is not available to buy from our online clinic. If you think you require treatment for Herpes, contact your doctor. They will be able to make a full assessment and discuss treatment options.

Active Ingredient

The antiviral agent in Famvir is a substance called famciclovir. In medicine, the compound is referred to as a prodrug. This type of treatment is different to standard drugs, in that it is transformed into an active agent via the body’s metabolic processes.

In the case of famciclovir, the body converts the agent into penciclovir, which works in a similar fashion to other antivirals, by stopping the virus from reproducing. It does this by interfering with the activity of an enzyme which the virus uses to feed itself and multiply. Once this growth has become neutralised, the body’s antibodies are better able to fight the virus back into remission.

Page last reviewed:  06/07/2017


Always ensure you follow the advice of your doctor when using this medicine. This will help to optimise its efficiency and reduce the potentiality for side effects.

  1. Begin taking Famvir as soon as you notice the development of symptoms.
  2. Swallow one tablet at a time with water.
  3. This medication does not need to be taken with food.
  4. Under no circumstances exceed the dose prescribed by your doctor.
  5. If you miss a dose, do not attempt to compensate with a double dose. Simply continue to take your medication as normal.
  6. Seek immediate medical advice if you take more than you should.

Prior to first use, read the patient information leaflet carefully, and if you are still unsure, ask your doctor or pharmacist for help.

Download Famvir patient information leaflet

Page last reviewed:  06/07/2017
Please read the patient information leaflet for this medicine fully before use:

Side effects & Warnings

Side effects

It is important before using any medicine to be aware of possible side effects, so that you can seek help as appropriate in the event that they occur.

Common (1 in 10 people or more):

Uncommon (1 in 100 people or more):
Nausea, vomiting, abnormal liver function test results, dizziness, rash, itching.

Rare (1 in 1000 people):
Confusion, drowsiness, rash, hallucinations.

The information provided here is not comprehensive. For a full list of side effects, consult the patient information leaflet supplied. If you experience anything unusual or think you may be having an allergic reaction to the treatment, consult a doctor right away.


Taking it with other medicines

During consultation, make sure you tell your doctor about any other medications you are currently using, or have recently used, whether they are prescription, non-prescription or remedial treatments.

Raloxifen, probenecid, or any other medicines which may affect kidney function can inhibit your suitability to Famvir. Additionally, you should never take more than one treatment at a time for herpes unless explicitly told to by your doctor.

Conditions to look out for

Make sure you let your prescriber know if you have ever had liver or kidney problems, or any illnesses which affect the immune system.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Famvir should not be used by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. If these circumstances apply to you or you are thinking about having a baby, speak to your doctor before you use this medicine.

Driving and machinery

This treatment can cause those who use it to feel drowsy, dizzy or confused. If this happens to you, you should refrain from driving or using machines.

Lactose intolerance

Famvir tablets contain lactose. If you have been made aware of an intolerance to some sugars, you should speak to your doctor before taking this medication.

Page last reviewed:  06/07/2017
Please read the patient information leaflet for this medicine fully before use:


Can I still drink alcohol?

You can. Alcohol is not known to interact with Famvir. However, we would recommend that you only drink in sensible amounts, so that you can continue to take the medicine responsibly and as prescribed by your doctor.

Will I still be able to drive?

If you experience any side effects which could affect your motor functions or judgment, such as dizziness, then it is recommended that you do not drive.

Can I take the medicine while pregnant?

This medication may cause harm to you or your baby if applied during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Only use it in this case if a doctor deems it absolutely necessary.

How should I store it?

Always keep your medicines below 30°C. Store them sealed in the original packaging to prevent them from being susceptible to light and moisture.

Am I allergic to anything in the medicine?

Famvir contains famciclovir: hydroxypropylcellulose, lactose (125 mg and 250 mg tablets only), sodium starch glycollate and magnesium stearate, hydroxypropylmethylcellulose, titanium dioxide (E171) and polyethylene glycol.

Is it available over-the-counter?

As you will require consultation with a doctor prior to using Famvir, you cannot buy the medicine without a prescription. 

Is it right for me?

If you are prone to herpes outbreaks and recurrent symptoms, it is always better to act quickly so that you can halt the condition from getting worse. If you are experiencing symptoms or you wish to discuss treatment options, make an appointment with your doctor.


Page last reviewed:  06/07/2017
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