Drug information

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Other Names:
Valtrex, valacyclovir HCl
Drug Class:
Antiviral (Herpesvirus Nucleoside Analog DNA Polymerase Inhibitor)
What is valacyclovir hydrochloride?What is valacyclovir hydrochloride?

What is valacyclovir hydrochloride?

Valacyclovir hydrochloride is an antiviral prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to:

  • Treat and/or prevent certain types of herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections, including genital herpes (genital lesions) and cold sores (orolabial lesions)
  • Reduce the risk of transmitting genital herpes to other people
  • Treat varicella zoster virus (VZV) infections, including chicken pox (primary varicella infection) and shingles (herpes zoster)

HSV and VZV infections can be opportunistic infections (OIs) of HIV. An OI is an infection that occurs more frequently or is more severe in people with weakened immune systems—such as people with HIV—than in people with healthy immune systems. To learn more about OIs, read the HIVinfo What is an Opportunistic Infection? fact sheet.

How is valacyclovir hydrochloride used in people with HIV?How is valacyclovir hydrochloride used in people with HIV?

How is valacyclovir hydrochloride used in people with HIV?

The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV include recommendations on the uses of valacyclovir hydrochloride in people with HIV to:

Treat

  • HSV infections, including cold sores and genital lesions
  • VZV infections, including chicken pox, shingles, and acute retinal necrosis (an inflammatory condition that can damage or destroy the retina of the eye)

Prevent

  • Chicken pox from occurring in certain people who come in contact with someone who has active shingles or chicken pox
  • Cold sores and genital lesions caused by HSV infection from recurring

The recommended uses may not always be consistent with FDA-approved uses of valacyclovir hydrochloride. See the guidelines for complete information on recommended uses of valacyclovir hydrochloride in adults and adolescents with HIV. Valacyclovir hydrochloride may have other recommended uses not listed above.

What should I tell my health care provider before taking valacyclovir hydrochloride?What should I tell my health care provider before taking valacyclovir hydrochloride?

What should I tell my health care provider before taking valacyclovir hydrochloride?

Before taking valacyclovir hydrochloride, tell your health care provider:

  • If you are allergic to valacyclovir hydrochloride or any other medicines.
  • About any medical conditions you have or have had, particularly bone marrow or kidney transplant or kidney problems, including if you receive dialysis.
  • About anything that could affect your ability to take medicines, such as difficulty swallowing or remembering to take pills.
  • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Talk to your health care provider about the risks and benefits of taking valacyclovir hydrochloride during pregnancy.
  • If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. For women with HIV in the United States, the Guideline does not recommend breastfeeding. Before your baby is born, or if you are already breastfeeding, talk to your health care provider to discuss alternative options for feeding your baby.
  • About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Valacyclovir hydrochloride may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how valacyclovir hydrochloride works. Ask your health care provider if there are interactions between valacyclovir hydrochloride and the other medicines you take.

Ask your health care provider about possible side effects from valacyclovir hydrochloride. Your health care provider will tell you what to do if you have side effects.

How should I take valacyclovir hydrochloride?How should I take valacyclovir hydrochloride?

How should I take valacyclovir hydrochloride?

Take valacyclovir hydrochloride according to your health care provider’s instructions. Your health care provider will tell you how much valacyclovir hydrochloride to take and when to take it. Before you start valacyclovir hydrochloride and each time you get a refill, read any printed information that comes with your medicine.

How should valacyclovir hydrochloride be stored?How should valacyclovir hydrochloride be stored?

How should valacyclovir hydrochloride be stored?

  • Store valacyclovir hydrochloride tablets at room temperature, 59°F to 77°F (15°C to 25°C).
  • Store valacyclovir hydrochloride suspension between 36°F to 46°F (2°C to 8°C) in a refrigerator. Discard after 28 days.
  • Keep valacyclovir hydrochloride in the container that it came in and keep the container tightly closed.
  • Do not use valacyclovir hydrochloride if the original seal over the container opening is broken or missing.
  • Throw away valacyclovir hydrochloride that is no longer needed or expired (out of date). Follow FDA guidelines on how to safely dispose of unused medicine.
  • Keep valacyclovir hydrochloride and all medicines out of reach of children.
Where can I find more information about valacyclovir hydrochloride?Where can I find more information about valacyclovir hydrochloride?

Where can I find more information about valacyclovir hydrochloride?

More information about valacyclovir hydrochloride is available:

The above Patient Version drug summary is based on the following FDA label(s): Tablet (film-coated).

Last Reviewed: March 8, 2021