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
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:
problems with your vision;
severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea;
new or worsening cough, fever, stabbing chest pain, wheezing, feeling short of breath;
severe depression, thoughts about suicide, or thoughts about hurting someone else;
signs of serious anemia--pale or yellowed skin, dark colored urine, confusion or weakness; or
other signs of low blood cell counts--fever, chills, flu-like symptoms, swollen gums, mouth sores, skin sores, easy bruising, unusual bleeding, feeling light-headed.
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:
nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite;
fever, chills or shaking;
low blood cell counts, anemia;
feeling weak or tired;
mood changes, feeling anxious or irritable.
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.
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:
a hemoglobin blood cell disorder such as sickle-cell anemia or thalassemia;
moderate to severe kidney disease;
if you are also taking didanosine; or
if you are pregnant, or if you are a man whose sex partner is pregnant.
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:
a blood cell disorder such as anemia (low red blood cells);
vision problems (you may need an eye exam before taking ribavirin);
human immunodeficiency virus (HIV or AIDS) or a weak immune system;
depression, mental illness, thoughts of hurting yourself or others;
a thyroid disorder;
an organ transplant;
liver problems other than hepatitis C; or
treatment for hepatitis C that did not work well.
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.
If you are a woman, do not take ribavirin if you are pregnant. You will need to have a negative pregnancy test before taking ribavirin. You will also need pregnancy tests during treatment and for 6 months after your last dose.
If you are a man, do not take ribavirin if your sex partner is pregnant.
Both men and women should keep using effective birth control for at least 6 months after the last dose of ribavirin.
Tell your doctor right away if a pregnancy occurs while either the mother or the father is taking ribavirin. Your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry to track the effects of ribavirin on the baby.
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:
medicines to treat HIV or AIDS.
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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.
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