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Ribasphere (Capsules)

Generic Name: Ribavirin Capsules (RYE ba VIR in)
Brand Name: Rebetol, Ribasphere

  • Do not take Ribasphere (ribavirin capsules) alone to treat hepatitis C infection.
  • A very bad blood problem called hemolytic anemia can happen with this medicine. This can make heart disease worse and lead to very bad and sometimes deadly heart attacks. Tell your doctor if you have ever had heart problems. Do not take Ribasphere if you have ever had very bad heart disease or heart problems that are not being treated. Call your doctor right away if you have chest pain while taking this medicine.
  • Do not take if you are pregnant. Use during pregnancy may cause birth defects or loss of the unborn baby. If you get pregnant or plan on getting pregnant while taking Ribasphere, call your doctor right away.
  • Use 2 kinds of birth control that you can trust while using this medicine and for 6 months after stopping Ribasphere.
  • Do not take this medicine if you are a man with a sex partner who is pregnant.
  • If you are a man and have sex with a female who could get pregnant, protect her from pregnancy during care and for 6 months after care ends. Use 2 kinds of birth control that you can trust.
  • If you or your sex partner gets pregnant while taking Ribasphere or within 6 months after stopping this medicine, call your doctor right away.

Uses of Ribasphere:

  • It is used to treat hepatitis C infection.
  • It may be given to you for other reasons. Talk with the doctor.

What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take Ribasphere?

  • If you have an allergy to ribavirin or any other part of Ribasphere.
  • If you are allergic to any drugs like this one, any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.
  • If you have any of these health problems: Autoimmune hepatitis, worsening liver function, kidney disease, sickle cell anemia, or thalassemia major.
  • If you have ever had very bad heart problems or heart problems that are not controlled.
  • If you are of childbearing age, but are not using 2 kinds of birth control or if you are planning to get pregnant during your care or within 6 months after care has ended.
  • If you are taking didanosine.

This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with this medicine.

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take Ribasphere with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take Ribasphere?

  • Tell all of your health care providers that you take this medicine. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
  • You may need to have an ECG checked before starting Ribasphere (ribavirin capsules) and while taking it. Talk with your doctor.
  • Have an eye exam as you have been told by your doctor.
  • Have your lung function checked as you have been told by your doctor. Talk with your doctor.
  • If you have high blood sugar (diabetes), talk with your doctor. This medicine may raise blood sugar.
  • If you have had an organ transplant, talk with your doctor.
  • This medicine does not stop the spread of diseases like HIV or hepatitis that are passed through blood or having sex. Do not have any kind of sex without using a latex or polyurethane condom. Do not share needles or other things like toothbrushes or razors. Talk with your doctor.
  • Watch for gout attacks.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol may make liver disease worse.
  • Take good care of your teeth. See a dentist often.
  • You may have more chance of getting an infection. Wash hands often. Stay away from people with infections, colds, or flu.
  • Very bad and sometimes deadly lung problems have happened with this medicine. Call your doctor right away if you have lung or breathing problems like trouble breathing, shortness of breath, or a cough that is new or worse.
  • A very bad skin reaction (Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis) may happen. It can cause very bad health problems that may not go away, and sometimes death. Get medical help right away if you have signs like red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin (with or without fever); red or irritated eyes; or sores in your mouth, throat, nose, or eyes.
  • This medicine may affect growth in children and teens in some cases. They may need regular growth checks. Talk with the doctor.
  • If giving to your child, the dose of Ribasphere may need to be changed as your child's weight changes. Have your child's weight checked often. Talk with the doctor before changing your child's dose.
  • If you are a woman of childbearing age, take a pregnancy test each month while you take this medicine and for 6 months after care ends.
  • If you are a man with a female sex partner who may get pregnant, she will need a pregnancy test each month during your care and for 6 months after you stop Ribasphere.
  • If you have sex without using 2 kinds of birth control that you can trust, if you think you may be pregnant, or if you miss your period, call your doctor right away.
  • Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding. You will need to talk about any risks to your baby.

How is this medicine (Ribasphere) best taken?

Use this medicine as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

  • To gain the most benefit, do not miss doses.
  • Take with food.
  • Take Ribasphere at the same time of day.
  • Drink lots of noncaffeine liquids unless told to drink less liquid by your doctor.
  • Do not take this medicine for longer than you were told by your doctor.
  • This medicine may be used along with interferon or peginterferon. If you are using one of these drugs, read the patient fact sheet that comes with it.
  • Swallow whole. Do not chew, break, or crush.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Take a missed dose as soon as you think about it.
  • If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your normal time.
  • Do not take 2 doses at the same time or extra doses.

See also: Dosage Information (in more detail)

What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Signs of a pancreas problem (pancreatitis) like very bad stomach pain, very bad back pain, or very bad upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Signs of infection like fever, chills, very bad sore throat, ear or sinus pain, cough, more sputum or change in color of sputum, pain with passing urine, mouth sores, or wound that will not heal.
  • A fast heartbeat.
  • Very bad dizziness or passing out.
  • A big weight loss.
  • Sudden change or loss of eyesight.
  • Not able to pass urine or change in how much urine is passed.
  • Very bad muscle pain or weakness.
  • Pale skin.
  • Drugs like this one have raised the chance of suicidal thoughts or actions in children and young adults. The risk may be greater in people who have had these thoughts or actions in the past. All people who take Ribasphere need to be watched closely. Call the doctor right away if signs like low mood (depression), nervousness, restlessness, grouchiness, panic attacks, or changes in mood or actions are new or worse. Call the doctor right away if any thoughts or actions of suicide occur.
  • The ability of your bone marrow to make blood cells may be lowered. This can lead to very bad bleeding problems or infections. Tell your doctor right away if you have signs of infection like fever, chills, or sore throat; any bruising or bleeding; or if you feel very tired or weak.

What are some other side effects of Ribasphere?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

  • Headache.
  • Not able to sleep.
  • Upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Loose stools (diarrhea).
  • Not hungry.
  • Hair loss.
  • Feeling tired or weak.
  • Muscle or joint pain.
  • Dizziness.
  • Dry skin.
  • Dry mouth.

These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

How do I store and/or throw out Ribasphere?

  • Store at room temperature.
  • Store in a dry place. Do not store in a bathroom.
  • Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to throw out unused drugs.

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer

  • If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
  • Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else's drugs.
  • Keep a list of all your drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your doctor.
  • Talk with the doctor before starting any new drug, including prescription or OTC, natural products, or vitamins.
  • This medicine comes with an extra patient fact sheet called a Medication Guide. Read it with care. Read it again each time this medicine is refilled. If you have any questions about Ribasphere, please talk with the doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about Ribasphere. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from the healthcare provider. You must talk with the healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using Ribasphere (ribavirin capsules).

Review Date: September 6, 2017

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