Recent attention has been focused on new antiviral agents for the treatment of herpes zoster both in the medical literature1 and in the lay press (Wall Street Journal. July 12, 1933;B1, 5). Since acyclovir was approved for treatment of herpes zoster in April 1990, we have kept a log at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, of patients presenting at our clinics who inform us that they were previously treated for shingles by their local physician. Interestingly, only 33 (17%) of 197 of these patients had received acyclovir at the recommended dosage of 800 mg orally five times per day for 7 to 10 days. Another 56% of the patients reported being treated with acyclovir at lower oral dosages and/or with topical acyclovir. The remaining 27% of patients were treated with oral antibacterial agents and/or a variety of other non-antiviral drugs.
As we actively enroll patients in clinical