The current shortage of Acyclovir, CAS number 59277-98-3, is of great concern to the medical community. As a valued and integral treatment for encephalitis, the shortage of Acyclovir for compounding pharmacies has created an urgent need for both patients and practitioners. The August 27, 2013 issue of the Neurology journal cautioned healthcare professionals to be diligent in exploring possible diagnoses of encephalitis in patients before it is too late. While some cases of encephalitis have a known origin, such as bacteria or a virus, almost fifty percent of cases have no known origin, which creates a challenge for physicians dealing with this urgent condition. By the time most patients seek medical care they already have severe encephalitis, and are in dire need of acute and efficacious treatment.
Acyclovir is particularly useful for patients who are diagnosed with herpes encephalitis, which affects about fifteen percent of the patients with an encephalitis diagnosis. Many doctors try to treat patients with immunosuppressant medications and steroids, but unfortunately these medications often provoke debilitating adverse effects. Side effects of Acyclovir are often mild, and include headache, diarrhea, dizziness and nausea. As an antiviral drug Acyclovir is effectual at slowing down the herpes virus, and well as the specific progression of herpes encephalitis. In the aforementioned issue of Neurology, the John Hopkins Medical team reiterated the critical need for physicians to determine if patients had signs of encephalitis, and to treat suspected or determined cases of herpes encephalitis with Acyclovir immediately. In fact, according to The University of Michigan Health System, herpes simplex encephalitis is deadly in 70 to 80 percent of patients who do not receive treatment, in comparison to a 30 percent death rate for patients who are treated within four days’ time of symptom onset. The longer patients wait to receive Acyclovir the better chance they have to develop both mental and physical impairments, even after treatment has started. These impairments can include seizures, paralysis and loss of hearing. Acyclovir treatment must commence as soon as possible to ensure not only patient survival, but also to reduce the risk of life altering complications.
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