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Ribavirin (rye ba VYE rin)

Adult Medication

Brand Names: U.S.

Copegus; Moderiba; Rebetol; Ribasphere; Ribasphere RibaPak; Virazole

Brand Names: Canada

Virazole

Warning

  • Do not take this drug alone to treat hepatitis C infection.
  • A very bad blood problem called hemolytic anemia can happen with this drug. This can make heart disease worse and lead to very bad and sometimes deadly heart attacks. Tell your doctor if you have ever had heart problems. Do not take this drug if you have ever had very bad heart disease or heart problems that are not being treated. Call your doctor right away if you have chest pain while taking this drug.
  • Do not take if you are pregnant. Use during pregnancy may cause birth defects or loss of the unborn baby. If you get pregnant or plan on getting pregnant while taking this drug, call your doctor right away.
  • Use 2 kinds of birth control that you can trust while using this drug and for 6 months after stopping this drug.
  • Do not take this drug if you are a man with a sex partner who is pregnant.
  • If you are a man and have sex with a female who could get pregnant, protect her from pregnancy during care and for 6 months after care ends. Use 2 kinds of birth control that you can trust.
  • If you or your sex partner gets pregnant while taking this drug or within 6 months after stopping this drug, call your doctor right away.

What is this drug used for?

  • It is used to treat hepatitis C infection.
  • This drug must be used with interferon alfa to treat hepatitis C.
  • It may be given to you for other reasons. Talk with the doctor.

What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take this drug?

  • If you have an allergy to ribavirin or any other part of this drug.
  • If you are allergic to any drugs like this one, any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.
  • If you have any of these health problems: Autoimmune hepatitis, worsening liver function, kidney disease, sickle cell anemia, or thalassemia major.
  • If you are of childbearing age, but are not using 2 kinds of birth control or if you are planning to get pregnant during your care or within 6 months after care has ended.
  • If you are taking didanosine.
  • If you have kidney problems or are on dialysis. Some brands of this drug are not to be used in people who have kidney problems.
This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with this drug.
Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take this drug with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take this drug?

  • Tell dentists, surgeons, and other doctors that you use this drug.
  • Avoid driving and doing other tasks or actions that call for you to be alert until you see how this drug affects you.
  • Have your blood work checked often. Talk with your doctor.
  • You will need an ECG before starting this drug.
  • Have an eye exam.
  • If you have high blood sugar (diabetes), talk with your doctor. This drug may raise blood sugar.
  • If you have had an organ transplant, talk with your doctor.
  • This drug does not stop the spread of diseases like HIV or hepatitis that are passed through blood or having sex. Do not have any kind of sex without using a latex or polyurethane condom. Do not share needles or other things like toothbrushes or razors. Talk with your doctor.
  • Watch for gout attacks.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol may make liver disease worse.
  • Take good care of your teeth. See a dentist often.
  • You may have more chance of getting an infection. Wash hands often. Stay away from people with infections, colds, or flu.
  • This drug may affect growth in children and teens in some cases. They may need regular growth checks. Talk with the doctor.
  • Different brands of this drug may have different doses for children. Talk with the doctor before giving this drug to a child.
  • If you are a woman of childbearing age, take a pregnancy test each month while you take this drug and for 6 months after care ends.
  • If you are a man with a female sex partner who may get pregnant, she will need a pregnancy test each month during your care and for 6 months after you stop this drug.
  • If you have sex without using 2 kinds of birth control that you can trust, if you think you may be pregnant, or if you miss your period, call your doctor right away.
  • Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding. You will need to talk about any risks to your baby.

What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:
  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Signs of a pancreas problem (pancreatitis) like very bad stomach pain, very bad back pain, or very bad upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Signs of infection. These include a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, chills, very bad sore throat, ear or sinus pain, cough, more sputum or change in color of sputum, pain with passing urine, mouth sores, wound that will not heal, or anal itching or pain.
  • A fast heartbeat.
  • Very bad dizziness or passing out.
  • A big weight loss.
  • Sudden change or loss of eyesight.
  • Not able to pass urine or change in how much urine is passed.
  • Very bad muscle pain or weakness.
  • Children and teens who take this drug may be at a greater risk of having thoughts or actions of suicide. Adults may also be at risk. The risk may be greater in people who have had these thoughts or actions in the past. Watch people who take this drug closely. Call the doctor right away if signs like low mood (depression), nervousness, restlessness, grouchiness, panic attacks, or changes in mood or actions are new or worse. Call the doctor right away if any thoughts or actions of suicide occur.
  • A very bad skin reaction (Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis) may happen. It can cause very bad health problems that may not go away, and sometimes death. Get medical help right away if you have signs like red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin (with or without fever); red or irritated eyes; or sores in your mouth, throat, nose, or eyes.
  • Very bad and sometimes deadly lung problems have happened with this drug. Call your doctor right away if you have lung or breathing problems like trouble breathing, shortness of breath, or a cough that is new or worse.
  • Very bad and sometimes deadly liver problems have happened with this drug. Call your doctor right away if you have signs of liver problems like dark urine, feeling tired, not hungry, upset stomach or stomach pain, light-colored stools, throwing up, or yellow skin or eyes.
  • This drug may lower the ability of your bone marrow to make blood cells that your body needs. This can lead to very bad and sometimes deadly bleeding problems or infections. Tell your doctor right away if you have signs of infection like fever, chills, or sore throat; any bruising or bleeding; or if you feel very tired or weak.

What are some other side effects of this drug?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:
  • Headache.
  • Not able to sleep.
  • Upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Loose stools (diarrhea).
  • Not hungry.
  • Hair loss.
  • Feeling tired or weak.
  • Muscle or joint pain.
  • Dizziness.
  • Dry skin.
  • Dry mouth.
These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
You may report side effects to your national health agency.

How is this drug best taken?

Use this drug as ordered by your doctor. Read and follow the dosing on the label closely.

All oral products:

  • To gain the most benefit, do not miss doses.
  • Take with food.
  • Take this drug at the same time of day.
  • Drink lots of noncaffeine liquids unless told to drink less liquid by your doctor.
  • Do not take this drug for longer than you were told by your doctor.

Capsule:

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

Oral solution:

  • Measure liquid doses carefully. Use the measuring device that comes with this drug. If there is none, get an oral syringe, a dropper, a spoon, or a cup (only for older children) from your pharmacist.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Take a missed dose as soon as you think about it.
  • If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your normal time.
  • Do not take 2 doses at the same time or extra doses.

How do I store and/or throw out this drug?

All oral products:

  • Store in a dry place. Do not store in a bathroom.
  • Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to throw out unused drugs.

Tablets and capsules:

  • Store at room temperature.

Oral solution:

  • Store liquid (solution) at room temperature or in a refrigerator. Do not freeze.

General drug facts

  • If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
  • Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else’s drugs.
  • Keep a list of all your drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your doctor.
  • Talk with the doctor before starting any new drug, including prescription or OTC, natural products, or vitamins.
  • Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. If you have any questions about this drug, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from the healthcare provider. You must talk with the healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

Last Reviewed Date

2014-04-18

Copyright

Copyright © 2014 Clinical Drug Information, LLC and Lexi-Comp, Inc.