- What is ribavirin, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What are the uses for ribavirin?
- What are the side effects of ribavirin?
- What is the dosage for ribavirin?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with ribavirin?
- Is ribavirin safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about ribavirin?
What is ribavirin, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Ribavirin is an antiviral drug. It is used in combination with interferon for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. Although the exact mechanism of its action is unknown, it is thought to interfere with the production and/or action of viral DNA and RNA which are critical to the survival and multiplication of the virus. Ribavirin was approved by the FDA in December 1998.
What brand names are available for ribavirin?
Rebetol, Copegus, Ribasphere, RibaPak, Moderiba
Do I need a prescription for ribavirin?
What are the uses for ribavirin?
What are the side effects of ribavirin?
The most common side effect seen with the combination of ribavirin and interferon is a flu-like syndrome consisting of:
Other possible side effects that may occur during therapy with ribavirin and interferon are:
- difficulty breathing,
- itching, and
- alterations in taste perception.
The most serious side effect seen with ribavirin is anemia. Careful consideration is advised if ribavirin is used in patients with heart or circulation problems since the anemia may aggravate these conditions.
Ribavirin should be avoided among patients who have severe kidney disease and have lost most of their kidneys' function.
Therapy with ribavirin and interferon may aggravate psychiatric conditions or may trigger a psychiatric condition such as depression, psychosis, aggressive behavior, hallucinations, or violent behavior. Patients should be closely monitored for the development of these psychiatric conditions.
Therapy with ribavirin and interferon has caused abnormalities of the thyroid gland. If these abnormalities persist and cannot be controlled by medication, it may be necessary to discontinue therapy.
What is the dosage for ribavirin?
- Ribavirin dosing is individualized based upon a patient's weight and previous use of interferon.
- Dosing also depends on the formulation used and the type of hepatitis C virus infection.
- The recommended dose of ribavirin tablets is 800 to 1200 mg divided every 12 hours for 24 to 48 weeks.
- Ribavirin may be taken with or without food. When taken orally, it should be taken consistently. For example, it should be taken at the same time or times each day and with or without food each time.
Which drugs or supplements interact with ribavirin?
Ribavirin used at the same time as other antiviral drugs with similar mechanisms of action may cause a condition in which lactic acid accumulates in the blood (lactic acidosis) which can lead to serious medical problems. Other such antiviral drugs include those used to manage HIV infection, for example, zidovudine (Retrovir), zalcitabine (Hivid) or stavudine (Zerit).
Adding ribavirin treatment among patients taking azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan) increases the chance of severe pancytopenia (a reduction in the numbers of all types of blood cells) due to azathioprine. This occurs because ribavirin reduces the breakdown of a harmful chemical produced during the breakdown of azathioprine.
Is ribavirin safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
There are no studies of ribavirin in pregnant women; however, in pregnant animals receiving ribavirin in smaller doses than those given to humans there have been fetal birth defects and death. Therefore, ribavirin should not be taken by pregnant women. In addition, women who are receiving ribavirin therapy should wait at least 6 months after ribavirin is stopped before becoming pregnant in order to prevent potential effects of ribavirin on the fetus.
Since ribavirin may cause abnormalities in sperm, men taking ribavirin should avoid attempts to impregnate sexual partners and should wait six months after discontinuing the drug before attempting to impregnate.
Although it is unknown if ribavirin is excreted in human milk during lactation, studies in animals have shown interferons to be excreted into milk, and the potential exists for serious adverse effects from combination therapy. Therefore, breastfeeding should be discontinued during treatment.
What else should I know about ribavirin?
What preparations of ribavirin are available?
Capsule: 200 mg.
How should I keep ribavirin stored?
Ribavirin should be refrigerated at 2 C to 8 C (36 F to 46 F).
Latest Digestion News
Daily Health News
Ribavirin (Rebetol, Copegus, Ribasphere, RibaPak, Moderiba) is a drug used in combination with interferon for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. Review side effects, drug interactions, dosage, and pregnancy safety information prior to taking any medication.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Hepatitis C, Hep B, Hep A: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment
Hepatitis C, B, and A are viruses that cause liver inflammation. Hepatitis B vaccines and hepatitis A vaccines are available....
Hepatitis C (Hep C): Symptoms, Treatments, Antivirals
What is hepatitis C (Hep C, HVC)? Learn about hepatitis C symptoms, how you get Hep C, contagiousness, and treatment for...
Hepatitis: How Do You Get Hepatitis A, B, and C?
Hepatitis C virus and hepatitis B can make an infected person very sick and they are risk factors for liver cancer, liver...
Hepatitis C Quiz: What is Hepatitis C?
How many Americans have hepatitis C? Take this quiz to learn the facts about this chronic disease.
Related Disease Conditions
Hepatitis (Viral Hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, G)
Hepatitis is most often viral, due to infection with one of the hepatitis viruses (A, B, C, D, E, F (not confirmed), and G) or another virus (such as those that cause infectious mononucleosis, cytomegalovirus disease). The main nonviral causes of hepatitis are alcohol and drugs. Many patients infected with hepatitis A, B, and C have few or no symptoms of illness. For those who do develop symptoms of viral hepatitis, the most common are flu-like symptoms including: loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fever, weakness, tiredness, and aching in the abdomen. Treatment of viral hepatitis is dependent on the type of hepatitis.
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a disease transmitted by rodents. Symptoms include fever and muscle pain. HPS can be prevented by sealing up rodent entry holes, trapping rats and mice with an appropriate snap trap, and cleaning up rodent food sources.
Hepatitis C (HCV, Hep C)
Hepatitis C is an inflammation of the liver due to the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is usually spread by blood transfusion, hemodialysis, and needle sticks, especially with intravenous drug abuse. Symptoms of chronic hepatitis include fatigue, fever, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and fever. Chronic hepatitis C may be cured in most individuals with drugs that target specific genomes of hepatitis C.
Lassa fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever that causes flu-like symptoms. Ribavirin is the standard treatment for Lassa fever. Hearing loss is a common complication of Lassa fever.
Is Hepatitis C Contagious?
Hepatitis C or hep C causes acute and chronic liver disease. Hep C is a form of liver disease with symptoms like fatigue, jaundice, nausea and vomiting, anorexia, and abdominal discomfort. Hepatitis C is a contagious viral infection caused by persons sharing drug needles, surgical instruments that have not been properly sanitized, and organ transplantation.
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a highly contagious viral infection. Symptoms include fever and nasal congestion and discharge. Treatment focuses on supportive care. This disease has a good prognosis in babies and infants.
Hepatitis C Cure (Symptoms, Transmission, Treatments, and Cost)
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver. There are a variety of toxins, diseases, illicit drugs, medications, bacterial and viral infections, and heavy alcohol use can case inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis C viral infection (HCV) is one type of hepatitis. According to the CDC, in 2014 there were an estimated 30,500 cases of acute hepatitis C infections in the US. An estimated 2.7-3.9 million people in the US have chronic hepatitis C. The virus is spread from person-to-person via blood-to-blood contact. Symptoms of HCV infection include joint pain, jaundice, dark urine, nausea, fatigue, fever, loss of appetites, clay colored stool. Hepatitis C can be cured with medications in most people. There is no vaccine against the hepatitis C virus.
Nipah Virus Infection
Nipah virus infection is a zoonotic infection that fruit bats and pigs can transmit to humans. NiV signs and symptoms include headache, fever, myalgia, atypical pneumonia, and encephalitis. Treatment focuses on supportive care.
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Hepatitis C FAQs
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Medication Disposal
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
- Epclusa Approved for Chronic Hepatitis C
- Generic Hepatitis C Drugs as Effective as Pricey Brand Names: Study
- Zepatier Approved for Chronic Hepatitis C
- In Rare Cases, Hepatitis C Drug Tied to Slowed Heart Rate: Study
- Illnesses, Deaths Spur FDA Warning on Hepatitis C Drugs
- Technivie Approved for Hepatitis C
- Experimental Drug Combo Shows Promise Against Hepatitis C
- Health Highlights: Dec. 22, 2014
- Drug Regimen Cures Hepatitis C in Most Liver Transplant Patients in Study
- Pricey Hepatitis Drug a Good Bet in U.S. Prisons, Study Says
- Hepatitis C Combo Pill May Cure Those Who Can Afford It
- FAQ: The High Cost of Hepatitis C Drugs
- Cure Rate for Experimental Hepatitis C Drug Tops 95 Percent
- Most With Hepatitis C May Soon Find Hope in New Treatments
- FDA Approves New Treatment for Hepatitis C Infection
- New Drug Combo Helps Hard-to-Treat Hepatitis C
- More Drugs Show Promise in Fighting Hepatitis C
- Experimental Drug for Hepatitis C Promising, Studies Show
- Treatment for New, Deadly Coronavirus Shows Promise
- New Pills Show Promise for Hepatitis C
- FDA Warns of Fatal Rash From Hep C Drug Incivek
- Antiviral Therapy for Hepatitis C May Thwart Liver Cancer
- Hepatitis C Treatment May Hamper Kids' Growth
- Vitamin B12 May Boost Hep C Treatment
- New Drug Combo for Hepatitis C Shows Promise
- FDA Panel Backs 2 Hepatitis C Drugs
- FDA Panel Urges Approval of Hepatitis C Drug
- Experimental Drug May Treat Hepatitis C
- New Drug Cures Hard-to-Treat Hepatitis C
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.