Oral acyclovir therapy accelerates pain resolution in patients with herpes zoster: A meta-analysis of placebo-controlled trials

Academic Article


  • Meta-analysis of four double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials of oral acyclovir (800 mg five times daily) for the treatment of herpes zoster was conducted to provide definitive assessments of the effect of acyclovir on the resolution of zoster-associated pain. The studies involved a total of 691 patients, and the analysis was performed on an intent-to-treat basis. A range of milestones of pain cessation were evaluated by means of Cox regression models with adjustment for relevant prognostic factors. The proportion of patients with postherpetic neuralgia at 3 and 6 months was also determined. Advancing age and more severe pain at presentation were associated with more prolonged pain. Acyclovir was clearly shown to accelerate pain resolution by all of the measures employed. Benefit was especially evident in patients 50 years of age or older. Fewer acyclovir recipients had postherpetic neuralgia at 3 or 6 months. Overall, the reductions of pain duration and prevalence were approximately twofold.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Wood MJ; Kay R; Dworkin RH; Soong SJ; Whitley RJ
  • Start Page

  • 341
  • End Page

  • 347
  • Volume

  • 22
  • Issue

  • 2