Objective-To determine plasma pharmacokinetics of penciclovir following oral and rectal administration of famciclovir to young Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). Animals-6 healthy Asian elephants (5 females and 1 male), 4.5 to 9 years old and weighing 1,646 to 2,438 kg. Procedures-Famciclovir was administered orally or rectally in accordance with an incomplete crossover design. Three treatment groups, each comprising 4 elephants, received single doses of famciclovir (5 mg/kg, PO, or 5 or 15 mg/kg, rectally); there was a minimum 12-week washout period between subsequent famciclovir administrations. Serial blood samples were collected after each administration. Samples were analyzed for famciclovir and penciclovir with a validated liquid chromatography-mass spectroscopy assay. Results-Famciclovir was tolerated well for both routes of administration and underwent complete biotransformation to the active metabolite, penciclovir. Mean maximum plasma concentration of penciclovir was 1.3 μg/mL at 1.1 hours after oral administration of 5 mg/ kg. Similar results were detected after rectal administration of 5 mg/kg. Mean maximum plasma concentration was 3.6 μg/mL at 0.66 hours after rectal administration of 15 mg/ kg; this concentration was similar to results reported for humans receiving 7 mg/kg orally. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance-Juvenile Asian elephants are susceptible to elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus. Although most infections are fatal, case reports indicate administration of famciclovir has been associated with survival of 3 elephants. In Asian elephants, a dose of 8 to 15 mg of famciclovir/kg given orally or rectally at least every 8 hours may result in penciclovir concentrations that are considered therapeutic in humans.
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