Report on New Patented Drugs - Abreva

Under its transparency initiative, the PMPRB publishes the results of the reviews of new patented drugs by Board Staff, for purposes of applying the Board's Excessive Price Guidelines (Guidelines) for all new active substances introduced after January 1, 2002.

Brand Name: Abreva

Generic Name: (docosanol)

DIN: 02245677 (10%, 100 mg/gram)

Patentee: GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Inc.

Indication – as per product monograph:

For the treatment of acute episodes of recurrent oral-facial herpes simplex (fever blisters or cold sores) in adults.

Date of Issuance of First Patent(s)
>Pertaining to the Medicine: June 29, 1999

Notice of Compliance: May 24, 2002

Date of First Sale August 9, 2005

ATC Class: D06BB
Dermatologicals; Antibiotics and
Chemotherapeutics for Dermatological Use;
Chemotherapeutics for Topical Use; antivirals



The introductory price of Abreva was found to be within the Guidelines because the cost of therapy did not exceed the median of the international prices of the same medicine in the comparator countries listed in the Patented Medicines Regulations (Regulations) in which Abreva was sold.

Scientific Review

Abreva is a new active substance and the PMPRB's Human Drug Advisory Panel (HDAP) recommended that Abreva be classified as a category 3 new medicine (provides moderate, little or no therapeutic advantage over comparable existing medicines).

The HDAP was unable to conclusively state that any one of the currently used medications for herpes labialis is clinically comparable. As a result, the HDAP did not identify any comparators for the conduct of a Therapeutic Class Comparison (TCC) test.

Price Review

Under the Guidelines, the introductory price of a new category 3 drug product will be presumed to be excessive if it exceeds the prices of all comparable drug products based on a TCC test, or if it exceeds the range of the prices of the same medicine sold in the seven countries listed in the Regulations.

The Guidelines further state that, when it is inappropriate or impossible to conduct a TCC test, Board Staff will give primary weight to the median of the international prices identified in an International Price Comparison (IPC) test. See the PMPRB's Compendium of Guidelines, Policies and Procedures for a more complete description of the Guidelines.

The introductory price of Abreva was within the Guidelines as the price in Canada did not exceed the median of the international prices identified in an IPC test as shown in the table below.

Introductory Period (August to December 2005)
Country and Median Price (in Canadian dollars)
Canada $6.1150
France --
Germany --
Italy --
Sweden $4.9476
Switzerland --
United Kingdom --
United States $7.6300
Median $6.2888

Source: Publicly available price as per the Regulations.

The publication of Summary Reports is part of the PMPRB's commitment to make its price review process more transparent.

Where comparators and dosage regimens are referred to in the Summary Reports, they have been selected by the HDAP for the purpose of carrying out the PMPRB's regulatory mandate, which is to review the prices of patented medicines sold in Canada to ensure that such prices are not excessive.

The PMPRB reserves the right to exclude from the therapeutic class comparison list any drug product if it has reason to believe it is being sold at an excessive price.

In its Summary Reports, the PMPRB will also refer to the publicly available prices of comparators provided such prices are not more than 10% above a non-excessive price in which case no price will be made available. As a result, the publication of these prices is for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as being considered within the Guidelines.

The information contained in the PMPRB's Summary Reports should not be relied upon for any purpose other than stated and is not to be interpreted as an endorsement, recommendation or approval of any drug nor is it intended to be relied upon as a substitute for seeking appropriate advice from a qualified health care practitioner.

References – Abreva

1. Anon. Antiviral agents for the treatment of common herpetic infections in immunocompetent patients. Pharmacist's letter. December 2003. DN 170721.

2. Anon. Docosanol cream (Abreva) for recurrent herpes labialis. Med Let 2000;42(1092):108.

3. Anon. FDA rejects NDA filing of topical docosanol for oral-facial herpes. Antiviral Agents Bull 1999;44. Available from: (Accessed 21 March 2005)

4. Anon. New phase III trials with lidakol for oral herpes. Antiviral Agents Bull 1996;200. Available from: (Accessed 21 March 2005)

5. Anon. Topical Lidakol efficacy comparable to acyclovir cream for oral herpes Antiviral Agents Bull 1995;293. Available from: (Accessed 21 March 2005)

6. Anon. Topical Lidakol phase III trials for oral HSV fail to show efficacy vs. placebo. Antiviral Agents Bull 1996;104. Available from: (Accessed 21 March 2005)

7. Anti-infective Review Panel. Anti-infective Guidelines for Community-acquired Infections. MUMS Guideline Clearinghouse. Toronto, ON. 2005. P. 48

8. Aoki FY. Contemporary antiviral drug regimens for the prevention and treatment of orolabial and anogenital herpes simplex virus infection in the normal host: Four approved indications and 13 off label uses. Can J Infect Dis 2003;14(1):17-27.

9. Bazian Ltd. Herpes labialis. Clin Evid 2003;10:355-6.

10. Docherty JJ, Smith FS, Fu MM, Stoner T, Booth T. Efficacy of topically applied resveratrol on cutaneous herpes simplex virus infections in hairless mice. Antiviral Res 2004;61(1):19-26.

11. Elish D, Singh F, Weinberg JM. Therapeutic options for herpes labialis, II: Topical agents. Cutis 2004;74:35-40.

12. Gilbert DN, Moellering RC Jr, Eliopoulos GM, Sande MA. The Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy.34th ed. Antimicrobial Therapy Inc. Hyde Park, VT. 2004. P. 109.

13. Habbema L, De Boulle K, Roders GA, Katz DH. n-Docosanol 10% cream in the treatment of recurrent herpes labialis: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Acta Derm Venereol (Stockh) 1996;76:479-81.

14. Herplex –D package insert. Allergan Inc. Ontario, Canada.

15. Jensen LA, Hoehns JD, Squires CL. Oral antivirals for the acute treatment of recurrent herpes labialis. Ann Pharmacother 2003;38:705-9.

16. Mackowiak ED. Prevention and treatment of cold sores [CE lesson]. US Pharm 2003:12:7784.

17. McKeogh MB, Spruance SL. Comparison of new topical treatments for herpes labialis: efficacy of pencyclovir cream, acyclovir cream and n-docosanol cream against experimental cutaneous herpes simplex virus type 1 infection. Arch Dermatol 2001;137(9):1153-8.

18. Palacioz K. New Drug: Docosanol 10% Cream (Abreva). Pharmacist's Letter. Detail-Document#:161102.

19. Pope LE, Marcelletti JF, Katz LR, Lin JY, Katz DH, Parish ML, et al. The anti-herpes simplex virus activity of n-docosanol includes inhibition of the viral entry process. Antiviral Res 1998;40:85-94.

20. Product Monograph of Abreva (docosanol cream, 10%). GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Inc. Oakville, ON. September 30, 2002

21. Product Prescribing of Denavir (penciclovir cream, 1%). Novartis. Available from: . (Accessed 23 March 2005)

22. Rabron et al. Recurrent herpes simplex labialis: selected therapeutic options. Can Dent Assoc 2003;69(8):498-503.

23. Sacks SL. Efficacy of docosanol [letter]. J Am Acad Dermatol 2003;49(3):558-9.

24. Sacks SL, Thisted RA, Jones TM, Barbarash RA, Mikolich DJ, et al. Clinical efficacy of topical docosanol 10% cream for herpes simplex labialis: a multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Am Acad Dermatol 2001;45:222-30.

25. Spruance SL. N-docosanol (Abreva) for herpes labialis: Problems and questions. J Am Acad Dermatol 2002; 47(3):457-8.

26. Therapeutics Product Directorate. Notice of Compliance. Prescription Products for Human Use. Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, 1999. Available from: (Accessed 16 March 2005)

27. Therapeutics Product Directorate. Notice of Compliance: Nonprescription Products for Human Use. Jan 1- Dec. 31, 2002. Available from: . (Accessed 16 March 2005)

28. Vander Straten M, Currasco D, Lee P, Tyring SK. A review of antiviral therapy for herpes labialis. Arch Dermatol 2001;137:1232-4.

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