Ribasphere

Generic Name: ribavirin (oral) (rye ba VYE rin)
Brand Names: Copegus, Rebetol, RibaPak, Ribasphere, RibaTab

What is Ribasphere?

Ribasphere (ribavirin) is an antiviral medication.

Ribasphere must be used together with an interferon alfa product (such as Pegasys, PegIntron, Sylatron, or Intron A) to treat chronic hepatitis C.

Ribasphere may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important information

Ribasphere is not effective when used alone to treat hepatitis C. It must be used together with an interferon alfa product (such as Pegasys, PegIntron, Sylatron, or Intron A) to treat chronic hepatitis C. You should not take Ribasphere if you are allergic to ribavirin, or if you have severe liver disease, autoimmune hepatitis, a hemoglobin disorder (anemia, thalassemia, and others), if you are also taking didanosine (Videx), or if you are pregnant woman, or a man whose female sexual partner is pregnant.

Slideshow: Flashback: FDA Drug Approvals 2013

Ribasphere can cause birth defects or death in an unborn baby. If you are a woman, do not take Ribasphere if you are pregnant. If you are a man, do not take Ribasphere if your female sexual partner is pregnant. An unborn baby could also be harmed if a man fathers the child while he is taking this medicine.

Use at least two effective forms of birth control while either sexual partner is taking Ribasphere, and for at least 6 months after treatment ends. Tell your doctor right away if a pregnancy occurs while either the mother or the father is taking Ribasphere.

Ribasphere may decrease the number of red blood cells in your body. This is called anemia and it can be life-threatening in people who have heart disease or circulation problems. Your blood will need to be tested often. Your vision, liver function, and thyroid function may also need to be tested. Visit your doctor regularly. Call your doctor at once if you have pale or yellowed skin, dark colored urine, fever, confusion, chest pain, weakness, or trouble breathing.

Before taking this medicine

You should not take Ribasphere if you are allergic to ribavirin, or if you have:

  • severe liver disease (especially cirrhosis);

  • autoimmune hepatitis;

  • a hemoglobin disorder such as anemia, thalassemia (Mediterranean anemia), or sickle-cell anemia;

  • if you are also taking didanosine (Videx); or

  • if you are pregnant woman, or a man whose female sexual partner is pregnant.

To make sure you can safely take Ribasphere, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • kidney or liver disease (other than hepatitis C);
  • hepatitis B infection;

  • a blood cell disorder such as hemolytic anemia (a lack of red blood cells);

  • human immunodeficiency virus (HIV or AIDS);

  • diabetes;

  • a pancreas disorder;

  • sarcoidosis;

  • breathing problems;

  • a thyroid disorder;

  • new or worsening eye problems (such as retinopathy);

  • a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, or a heart attack;

  • a history of depression or suicide attempt;

  • a history of a liver, kidney, or other organ transplant; or

  • if you have ever received treatment for hepatitis C that did not work well.

Ribasphere can cause birth defects or death in an unborn baby.

  • If you are a woman, do not take Ribasphere if you are pregnant. You will need frequent pregnancy tests to make sure you are not pregnant while taking this medicine.

  • If you are a man, do not take Ribasphere if your female sexual partner is pregnant. An unborn baby could also be harmed if a man fathers the child while he is taking Ribasphere. Your sexual partner will need frequent pregnancy tests to make sure she is not pregnant while you are taking this medicine.

  • Use at least two effective forms of birth control while either sexual partner is taking Ribasphere, and for at least 6 months after treatment ends.

  • Tell your doctor right away if a pregnancy occurs while either the mother or the father is taking Ribasphere.

Your name may need to be listed in a ribavirin pregnancy registry if you become pregnant while you or your male sexual partner are taking Ribasphere or during the 6 months after treatment ends. This is to track the outcome of the pregnancy and to evaluate any effects of Ribasphere on the baby.

It is not known whether ribavirin passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are taking ribavirin. Ribasphere may affect growth in children.

How should I take Ribasphere?

Take Ribasphere exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

Ribasphere is not effective when used alone to treat hepatitis C. It must be used together with an interferon alfa product (such as Peg-Intron or Intron A) to treat chronic hepatitis C. Take Ribasphere capsules with food.

Ribasphere may decrease the number of red blood cells in your body. This is called anemia and it can be life-threatening in people who have heart disease or circulation problems. Your blood will need to be tested often. Your vision, liver function, and thyroid function may also need to be tested. Visit your doctor regularly. Call your doctor at once if you have pale or yellowed skin, dark colored urine, fever, confusion, chest pain, shortness of breath, or weakness. These may be signs of serious anemia.

Use Ribasphere regularly to get the most benefit. Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely.

Drink extra fluids while you are taking this medicine to keep from getting dehydrated, especially during exercise or in hot weather.

Ribasphere can cause dry mouth, which could lead to tooth decay or gum disease. If you vomit while taking Ribasphere, rinse your mouth out with water to prevent damage to your teeth or gums. Be sure to have regular dental exams while you are taking this medication.

Store Ribasphere capsules at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light. .

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. If you have not taken the medication for longer than 24 hours, call your doctor for instructions. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. Overdose symptoms may include easy bruising or bleeding, urinating less than usual or not at all, chest pain or heavy feeling, pain spreading to the arm or shoulder, nausea, sweating, or a general ill feeling.

What should I avoid?

Treatment with Ribasphere does not prevent spread of the hepatitis C virus to other people. Follow your doctor's instructions about how to prevent passing the disease to another person.

Avoid drinking alcohol. It may increase your risk of liver damage. Ribasphere may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.

Ribasphere side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to Ribasphere: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Stop using Ribasphere and call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • problems with your vision;

  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms;

  • severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate;

  • stabbing chest pain, wheezing, feeling short of breath;

  • severe depression, hallucinations, thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself;

  • chest pain or heavy feeling, pain spreading to the arm or shoulder, nausea, sweating, general ill feeling; or

  • pale or yellowed skin, dark colored urine, easy bruising or bleeding, confusion, or unusual weakness.

Less serious Ribasphere side effects may include:

  • headache;

  • muscle pain;

  • dry mouth;

  • nausea; vomiting, stomach pain, loss of appetite;

  • weight loss;

  • feeling tired or irritable;

  • anxiety, mood changes; or

  • pain, swelling, or irritation where the interferon injection was given.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect Ribasphere?

Before taking Ribasphere, tell your doctor about all other medicines you use, especially:

  • abacavir (Ziagen);

  • azathiopriine (Azasan, Imuran);

  • lamivudine (Combivir, Epivir, Epzicom, Trizivir);

  • stavudine (Zerit);

  • tenofovir (Viread);

  • zalcitabine (Hivid); or

  • zidovudine (Retrovir, AZT).

This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with Ribasphere. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist can provide more information about Ribasphere.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects.

Copyright 1996-2014 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 6.03. Revision Date: 2013-09-10, 12:02:48 PM.

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