Method of examining oral acyclovir use for adverse events

R. E. Johnson, J. P. Mullooly, B. G. Valanis, B. H. McFarland, E. B. Andrews, H. H. Tilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The safety profile of acyclovir has been unremarkable in controlled research populations but has not been examined in general medical practice. This report describes the development and testing of an epidemiologic method to examine oral acyclovir use for possible serious short-term adverse consequences, using primarily the automated databases of an HMO. An historical cohort approach was used to investigate possible adverse events among oral acyclovir users over a two-year period. Users (1165) were matched four-to-one with nonusers. Periods at risk of an adverse event were established using 30-day and 180-day intervals following the receipt of the first prescription for oral acyclovir and a similar reference date for nonusers. The proportions of users and nonusers hospitalized for selected groups of diseases and exposed to various therapeutic classes of drugs during these intervals were compared by matched and unmatched Chi Square analyses. The findings were preliminary and suggested oral acyclovir users were no more likely than nonusers to be hospitalized for selected groups of diseases, with the possible exception of a non-life-threatening peripheral venous system morbidity (carpal tunnel syndrome). The methodology is applicable for generating hypotheses about potential adverse consequences of drug exposure in a general population. The HMO population and the automated databases provide a useful resource for pharmacoepidemiological research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-345
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Clinical Research and Pharmacoepidemiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Acyclovir
  • Adverse Events
  • Drug
  • Epidemiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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