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Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of topical 5% acyclovir-1% hydrocortisone cream (ME-609) for treatment of UV radiation-induced herpes labialis.

Author(s): Evans TG, Bernstein DI, Raborn GW, Harmenberg J, Kowalski J, Spruance SL

Affiliation(s): University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, USA. tgevans@ucdavis.edu

Publication date & source: 2002-06, Antimicrob Agents Chemother., 46(6):1870-4.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

Immunopathology is recognized as an important component of infectious disease manifestations, and corticosteroids have been used as an adjunct to antimicrobial therapy for a variety of conditions. Antiviral therapy of herpes labialis has been shown to result in only a small reduction in the time to healing and the duration of pain. To determine if topical application of a combination product containing 5% acyclovir and 1% hydrocortisone (ME-609) could provide benefit to herpes labialis patients, 380 immunocompetent adults with a history of herpes labialis were exposed to experimental UV radiation (UVR) to induce a recurrence. On day 2, just before the appearance of the majority of lesions ("delayed" lesions), subjects were randomized to receive active medication or vehicle control six times per day for 5 days. Overall, 120 of 380 patients developed delayed classical lesions, of whom 50 of 190 (26%) had been treated with ME-609 and 70 of 190 (37%) had received placebo (a reduction of 29% [P = 0.02]). Healing time, measured as the time to normal skin, was reduced by treatment with ME-609 (9.0 days for treated patients versus 10.1 days for the controls [P = 0.04]). There was a trend toward a reduction in the maximum lesion size in the ME-609 recipients compared to that in the controls (43 versus 60 mm(2), respectively [P = 0.07]). The treatment had no effect on lesion pain, but ME-609 treatment reduced the number of patients with moderate or severe tenderness. Compared to treatment with a placebo, treatment with the combination antiviral-immunomodulatory cream provided benefit to patients with experimental UVR-induced herpes labialis, reducing classical lesion incidence, healing time, lesion size, and lesion tenderness. ME-609 is a novel product that merits further evaluation as a treatment for cold sores.

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