safety medical

Valacyclovir (Valtrex)

Infections are of numerous kinds and can occur due to different causes. Viral infections such as herpes are extreme the common and seen often in clinical practice. In the treatment of viral infections, different anti-viral agents are available and one such agent is Valtrex. In this article, we shall briefly review Valtrex is a drug and talk about its mechanism of action.

What is valacyclovir?

Valacyclovir, i.e. generic Valtrex, is an anti-viral drug. It is used in the treatment of viral infections and is particularly effective in the management of herpes virus infection. As a treatment however, it is not curative but offers protection by reducing the clinical symptoms that a patient with herpes virus infection experiences.

Clinical uses

Valacyclovir i.e. Valtrex has a clinical application in the management of herpes viral infections. Typically, the treatment is using the management of cold sores, chickenpox, genital herpes and shingles.

How does Valtrex work?

After Valtrex is ingested orally, it is broken down in the gastrointestinal tract and releases two different compounds. One compound is acyclovir which is the active anti-viral agent within the drug. Acyclovir then acts on the wall of the viral agents and kills the virus.

In simple terms, valacyclovir is a prodrug i.e. a drug that does not have action itself but when broken down into its components has a clinical action.


The dosage of genetic Valtrex ranges between 500 mg to 1 g. Tablets are often prescribed and there does not appear to be an intravenous dose available as of yet. Oral suspensions are also available.

Taking precautions

The use of Valtrex has been reported to cause abnormalities in the kidney function. In particular, this is prevalent in elderly populations and therefore extra care must be taken when prescribing Valtrex to these patients. In patients taking other medications that can affect the kidney, Valtrex must be used with caution.


There are certain side-effects with Valtrex that both the patient and the physician must be aware of. Amongst the most serious side-effects, a drop in the platelet count number has been noticed due to the development of a condition called thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura. The drug can also affect the brain and can cause confusion, seizures and agitation.

In the event of development of side-effects, valacyclovir must be stopped and an alternative therapy must be commenced in order to obtain adequate clinical effect.

Valtrex i.e. valacyclovir is a commonly prescribed anti-viral agent that works by breaking down into acyclovir. It acts on the herpes virus and is effective in numerous clinical conditions caused by this virus. Patients and doctors must both be aware of the side-effects associated with the drug and the recommended dosage.

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