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Generic name: ribavirin (oral) [ RYE-ba-VYE-rin ]
Brand names: Copegus, Moderiba, RibaPak, RibaTab
Dosage forms: oral capsule (200 mg), oral tablet (200 mg; 400 mg-600 mg; 600 mg)
Drug classes: Inhaled anti-infectives, Purine nucleosides

Medically reviewed by on Jul 31, 2023. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is ribavirin?

Ribavirin is an antiviral medication that is used to treat chronic hepatitis C.

Ribavirin is not effective when used alone. ribavirin must be used in combination with interferon alfa or peginterferon alfa.

Ribavirin is sometimes given to people taking other antiviral medications to treat hepatitis C.

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

Ribavirin side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Ribavirin can cause anemia. In rare cases, this can lead to fatal heart problems. Get emergency medical attention if you have chest pain.

Ribavirin may cause serious side effects. Call your doctor at once if you have:

Ribavirin can affect growth in children. Tell your doctor if your child is not growing at a normal rate while using this medicine.

Common side effects of ribavirin may include:

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.


You should not use ribavirin if you have autoimmune hepatitis, moderate to severe kidney disease, a hemoglobin blood cell disorder, or if you take didanosine.

Ribavirin can harm an unborn baby if the mother or the father is using ribavirin. Do not use if you are pregnant, or if you are a man whose sex partner is pregnant. Both men and women should use effective birth control while taking ribavirin and for at least 6 months after the last dose.

Ribavirin is not effective when used alone and must be used in combination with an interferon.

In rare cases, ribavirin can cause fatal heart problems. Get emergency medical attention if you have chest pain.

Before taking this medicine

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

When you take ribavirin in combination with other medications: There may be other reasons you should not take the combination treatment. Tell your doctor about all your medical conditions.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

Both men and women taking ribavirin should use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy. Ribavirin can cause birth defects, miscarriage, or death to an unborn baby if the mother or father is using this medicine.

It may not be safe to breastfeed while using this medicine. Ask your doctor about any risk.

Ribavirin is not approved for use by anyone younger than 3 years old. Ribavirin tablets are not approved for use by anyone younger than 5 years old.

How should I take ribavirin?

Ribavirin is not effective when used alone and must be used in combination with other medications to treat hepatitis C.

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Take ribavirin with food.

Swallow the capsule whole and do not crush, chew, break, or open it. Tell your doctor if you have trouble swallowing the capsule.

Measure liquid medicine carefully. Use the dosing syringe provided, or use a medicine dose-measuring device (not a kitchen spoon).

Drink extra fluids while you are taking ribavirin to keep from getting dehydrated.

Ribavirin can cause dry mouth, which could lead to tooth decay or gum disease. If you vomit while taking ribavirin, 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.

You will need frequent medical tests.

Store ribavirin tablets or capsules at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.

Store ribavirin liquid (oral solution) at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose on the same day you remember it. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.

Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking ribavirin?

Avoid drinking alcohol. It can make your liver problems worse.

Using ribavirin will not prevent you from passing hepatitis to other people. Follow your doctor's instructions about how to prevent passing the disease to another person.

What other drugs will affect ribavirin?

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines, especially:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect ribavirin, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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