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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Ribavirin Overview

Written by FoundHealth.

(rye ba VYE rin)

U.S. Brand Names

Copegus®; Rebetol®; RibaPak™; Ribasphere®; Virazole®

Canadian Brand Names


Mexican Brand Names

Copegus; Desiken; Probirina; Trivorin; Vilona; Virazide

Pharmacologic Category

Antiviral Agent

What key warnings should I know about before taking this medicine?

• Do not take this medicine if you are pregnant. Use two effective forms of birth control during treatment and for 6 months after treatment ends.

• This medicine can cause a dangerous drop in your red blood cell count. Tell healthcare provider if you have heart or lung problems. Tell healthcare provider if you are using a ventilator.

• You should not take this medicine alone to treat hepatitis C infection.

• This medicine does not mix well with some medicines. Serious reactions may occur. Check all medicines with healthcare provider.

• Please read the medication guide.

Reasons not to take this medicine

• If you have an allergy to ribavirin or any other part of this medicine.

• Tell healthcare provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Make sure to tell about the allergy and how it affected you. This includes telling about rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other symptoms involved.

• If you have any of the following conditions: Autoimmune hepatitis, poor kidney function, sickle cell anemia, or thalassemia major.

• If you are of childbearing age, but are not using two forms of birth control or if you are planning to become pregnant during your treatment or within 6 months after treatment has ended.

• If you are a male patient with a sexual partner who is pregnant or plans on becoming pregnant at any time while you are being treated or within 6 months after your treatment has ended.

• If you are pregnant or may be pregnant.

• If you are breast-feeding.

How does it work?

• Ribavirin works to injure the virus and fight the infection.

How is it best taken?

All forms:

• To gain the most benefit, do not miss doses.

• This medicine must be used with interferon alfa for treatment of hepatitis C.


• Take capsule or solution with or without food but be consistent. Always take with food or always take on an empty stomach.

• When capsules are used in combination with peginterferon alfa-2b, take with food.

• Swallow capsule whole. Do not chew, break, or crush.

• Take tablet with food.

• A liquid (solution) is available if you cannot swallow pills.

• Those who have feeding tubes can also use the liquid. Flush the feeding tube before and after medicine is given.


• You will inhale this medicine through your mouth.

What do I do if I miss a dose? (does not apply to patients in the hospital)

• Take a missed dose as soon as possible.

• If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and return to your regular schedule.

• Do not take a double dose or extra doses.

• Do not change dose or stop medicine. Talk with healthcare provider.

What should I monitor?

• Change in condition being treated. Is it better, worse, or about the same?

• Check blood work regularly. Talk with healthcare provider.

• Have an eye exam before starting treatment and then yearly.

• Dry mouth may cause an increase in cavities. Take good care of your teeth. See a dentist regularly.

• Check weight weekly. Report a weight change to healthcare provider.

• If you are a female of childbearing age, take two pregnancy tests before starting this medicine and monthly while using this medicine.

• Follow up with healthcare provider.

How should I store this medicine?

• Store capsules and solution in a refrigerator or at room temperature.

• Protect capsules from moisture. Do not store in a bathroom or kitchen.

• Store powder and tablets at room temperature.

General statements

• If you have a life-threatening allergy, wear allergy identification at all times.

• Do not share your medicine with others and do not take anyone else's medicine.

• Keep all medicine out of the reach of children and pets.

• Most medicines can be thrown away in household trash after mixing with coffee grounds or kitty litter and sealing in a plastic bag.

• Keep a list of all your medicines (prescription, natural products, supplements, vitamins, over-the-counter) with you. Give this list to healthcare provider (doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner, pharmacist, physician assistant).

• Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or in Canada to Health Canada's Canada Vigilance Program at 1-866-234-2345.

• Talk with healthcare provider before starting any new medicine, including over-the-counter, natural products, or vitamins.

Created: 2006-10-13 15:32:06.0

Modified: 2010-03-19 12:19:27.0

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