Ribavirin is an antiviral drug.
Ribavirin should be used together with an interferon alpha product (such as Pegasys, PegIntron, Silatron or Intron A) for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C.
Ribavirin can also be used for purposes not listed in this manual.
You should not use Ribavirin if you have autoimmune hepatitis, a serious kidney disease, or a hemopoietic hemoglobin cell disorder.
Ribavirin is not effective when used alone. It should be used together with an interferon alpha product. You should not take Ribavirin with didanosine.
Ribavirin can cause birth defects or death in an unborn baby. Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant, or if you are a man, and your sex partner is pregnant. Use 2 contraceptive vids to prevent pregnancy, while a sexual partner takes Ribavirin and for at least 6 months after the end of treatment.
In rare cases, ribavirin can cause fatal heart problems. Get emergency medical help if you have chest pain.
You should not take ribavirin if you are allergic to it, or if you have:
- hemopoietic hemoglobin cell disorder, such as sickle cell disease or thalassemia;
- autoimmune hepatitis;
- severe kidney disease;
- if you also take didanosine (Videx); or
- if you are pregnant, or if you are a man whose sexual partner is pregnant.
You should not take Ribavirin with peginterferon alfa-2a, if you have:
- autoimmune hepatitis; or
- severe liver disease (especially cirrhosis).
To make sure that Ribavirin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
- heart disease;
- a disorder of blood cells, such as anemia (low red blood cells);
- problems with breathing;
- vision problems;
- liver problems other than hepatitis C;
- thyroid disorder;
- kidney disease;
- human immunodeficiency virus (HIV or AIDS);
- history of depression, mental illness, or attempted suicide;
- history of organ transplant; or
- if you have ever received hepatitis C treatment that did not work well.
Ribavirin can cause birth defects or death in an unborn baby. You may need to get a negative pregnancy test before taking this medicine and doing it every month during treatment.
Immediately notify your doctor if pregnancy occurs when the mother or father was taking ribavirin.
It is not known whether Ribavirin passes into breast milk and whether it can harm an infant. You should not breast-feed while using this medication.
Ribavirin is not approved for use by anyone younger than 3 years old.
Ribavirin can affect growth in children. Tell your doctor if your child does not grow at a normal rate when using this medication.
Side Effects of Ribavirin
Obtain immediate medical attention if you have signs of an allergic reaction: shortness of breath; swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Ribavirin can cause anemia. In rare cases, it can lead to fatal heart problems. Get emergency medical help if you have chest pain.
Call your doctor right away if you have:
- problems with vision;
- severe pain in the stomach, spreading to the back, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea;
- colitis in the chest, wheezing, feeling of lack of air;
- severe depression, thoughts of suicide, or thoughts of causing pain to others;
- signs of serious anemia; or
- fever, chills, flu-like symptoms, swollen gums, ulcers on the neck, skin ulcers, slight bruising, unusual bleeding, a sense of lightheadedness.
Common side effects may include:
- nausea, flu-like symptoms, fatigue;
- fever, chills, or shaking;
- mood changes, feelings of irritability;
- pain in the muscles; or
- pain in the stomach, vomiting, loss of appetite.
This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may also occur. Ask your doctor about side effects.
Avoid drinking alcohol. This can increase the risk of liver damage.
Tell your doctor about all your current medications and what you start or stop using, especially:
- azathioprine; or
- drugs to treat HIV or AIDS.
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with Ribavirin, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins and plant products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this manual.
Follow all directions on the recipe label. Do not take this medicine in large or small quantities, or longer than recommended.
Ribavirin is not effective when used alone for the treatment of hepatitis C. It must be used together with an interferon alpha product.
Take Ribavirin with food.
Do not crush, chew, break or open the Ribavirin capsule. Swallow it completely. Tell your doctor if you have trouble swallowing the capsule.
Measure the liquid medicine with a dosing syringe or a special metering spoon or cup for medicines. If you do not have a device for measuring the dose, ask your pharmacist.
Use Ribavirin regularly to get the most benefit. Get a new prescription before you run out of medicine completely.
Drink plenty of fluids while you are taking ribavirin to avoid dehydration, especially during exercise or in hot weather.
Ribavirin can cause dry mouth, which can lead to tooth splitting or gum disease. Be sure to perform regular dental tests while taking this medication.
Store Ribavirin tablets or capsules at room temperature away from moisture, heat and light.
Store Ribavirin Liquid (oral solution) in the refrigerator. Do not allow it to freeze.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Leave it if it’s time for the next scheduled dose. Do not take additional medication to make up for the missed dose.