Chickenpox are nearly a childhood rite of passage… Quarantine from others, being doused in calamine lotion and strong inclinations to take a hairbrush to those itchy miserable lesions. The varicella virus (or chickenpox) primes patients to develop herpes zoster later on in life. Because it’s viral, it lies dormant until reactivation occurs. In more severe cases, the virus may reappear as “shingles” (acute herpes zoster) and patients experience painful pustulates and crusting on the skin. A percentage of those patients may develop postherpetic neuralgia. Symptoms include extreme skin sensitivity to touch, numbness and paralysis or weakness.
Acute herpes zoster (AHZ) patients have limited pharmaceutical options including the following:
1. Anti-viral agents - With familiar names like Zovirax and Valtrex, anti-viral agents can reduce the rash associated with AHZ. However, the major drawback is that the agents must be administered within 72 hours of rash onset. If lesions have reached the crusting phase, these agents are unlikely to provide any relief.
2. Corticosteroids – Prednisone therapy has been shown to reduce pain associated with AHZ. The caveat is that corticosteroids come with a wealth of side effects including but not limited to severe mood swings, weight gain and elevated blood pressure.
3. Analgesics – AHZ associated pain may respond to over-the-counter analgesics such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Topical agents like calamine lotion can reduce dermal pain. However, relief is temporary and these methods aren’t terribly effective.
Fortunately, medicine is continuing to seek answers and the newest agent in the arsenal to combat AHZ is FV-100. FV-100 is a prodrug that is dormant when administered and the body’s metabolic processes “wake it up”. When combined with another new treatment, CF-1743, the two collaborate to actively inhibit the herpes zoster virus.
In preclinical studies, FV-100 has demonstrated the potential to reduce pain associated with shingles and make patient compliance easy with once-a-day doses taken orally. Clinical trials are ongoing and currently enrolling. Contact your physician to see if clinical trial participation is right for you.