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Ribavirin Capsules

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

Medically reviewed on July 4, 2018

Warning

  • Do not take this medicine (ribavirin capsules) alone to treat hepatitis C infection.
  • A very bad blood problem called hemolytic anemia can happen with this medicine (ribavirin capsules). 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 this medicine (ribavirin capsules) 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 (ribavirin capsules).
  • 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 this medicine (ribavirin capsules), call your doctor right away.
  • Use 2 kinds of birth control that you can trust while using this medicine (ribavirin capsules) and for 6 months after stopping this medicine (ribavirin capsules).
  • Do not take this medicine (ribavirin capsules) 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 this medicine (ribavirin capsules) or within 6 months after stopping this medicine (ribavirin capsules), call your doctor right away.

Uses of Ribavirin Capsules:

  • It is used to treat hepatitis C infection.

What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take Ribavirin Capsules?

  • If you have an allergy to ribavirin or any other part of this medicine (ribavirin capsules).
  • 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, liver problems other than hepatitis C, 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.
  • If you are breast-feeding or plan to breast-feed.

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

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 this medicine (ribavirin capsules) 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 Ribavirin Capsules?

  • Tell all of your health care providers that you take this medicine (ribavirin capsules). This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • Avoid driving and doing other tasks or actions that call for you to be alert until you see how this medicine (ribavirin capsules) affects you.
  • 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 this medicine (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 (ribavirin capsules). 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 this medicine (ribavirin capsules) 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 (ribavirin capsules) 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 this medicine (ribavirin capsules).
  • 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.

How is this medicine (Ribavirin Capsules) best taken?

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

  • Take with food.
  • Swallow whole. Do not chew, break, or crush.
  • Drink lots of noncaffeine liquids unless told to drink less liquid by your doctor.
  • Keep taking this medicine (ribavirin capsules) as you have been told by your doctor or other health care provider, even if you feel well.
  • It is important that you do not miss or skip a dose of this medicine (ribavirin capsules) during treatment.
  • Do not take this medicine (ribavirin capsules) 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.

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.
  • If you are not sure what to do if you miss a dose, call your doctor.

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, swallowing, 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.
  • Change in eyesight.
  • Loss of eyesight.
  • Pale skin.
  • Feeling confused.
  • 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 this medicine (ribavirin capsules) 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 Ribavirin Capsules?

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:

  • Flu-like signs.
  • Headache.
  • Not able to sleep.
  • Upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Loose stools (diarrhea).
  • Not hungry.
  • Belly pain.
  • 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 Ribavirin Capsules?

  • Store at room temperature.
  • Store in a dry place. Do not store in a bathroom.
  • Keep lid tightly closed.
  • Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.

Consumer information use

  • 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 (ribavirin capsules) is refilled. If you have any questions about this medicine (ribavirin capsules), 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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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