Treats hepatitis C. Used in combination with an interferon medicine, such as Intron® A, Peg-Intron®, or Pegasys®.
Rebetol, Ribasphere, Copegus, RibaPak
There may be other brand names for this medicine.
When This Medicine Should Not Be Used
You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to ribavirin, or if you have serious or unstable liver disease. Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if your female sexual partner is pregnant. You should not use this medicine if you have a blood cell disorder such as sickle-cell anemia or thalassemia.
How to Use This Medicine
Capsule, Liquid, Tablet
- Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to use and how often. Your dose may need to be changed several times in order to find out what works best for you. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
- Your dose of ribavirin might need to be changed some times. Make sure you always understand how much medicine to use.
- This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. Ask your pharmacist for the Medication Guide if you do not have one. Your doctor might ask you to sign some forms to show that you understand this information.
- Ribavirin is used with other medicines to treat hepatitis C infection. Use all other medicines your doctor has prescribed as part of your combination treatment. Ribavirin by itself will not treat hepatitis C.
- Take this medicine one time in the morning and one time at night, unless your doctor tells you otherwise. It is best to take this medicine with food at the same time every day.
- Swallow the capsule whole. Do not crush, break, or open it.
- Drink extra fluids so you will pass more urine while you are using this medicine. This will keep your kidneys working well and help prevent kidney problems.
- Measure the oral liquid medicine with a marked measuring spoon, oral syringe, or medicine cup.
If a dose is missed:
- If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to use the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose. Ask your health caregiver what to do if you miss taking your medicine for more than 24 hours.
How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine
- Store the capsules and tablets at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Store the oral liquid in the refrigerator or at room temperature, away from heat and direct light.
- Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
- Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.
Drugs and Foods to Avoid
Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.
- Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using medicine to treat HIV or AIDS, such as abacavir, didanosine, stavudine, zidovudine, Trizivir®, Videx®, or Ziagen®.
- Do not drink alcohol while you are using this medicine.
Warnings While Using This Medicine
- Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. The medicine may also cause birth defects if the father is using it when his sexual partner becomes pregnant. If a pregnancy occurs while you are using this medicine, tell your doctor right away.
- To make sure you are not pregnant, your doctor may ask you to have a pregnancy test before you start using this medicine. You should test for pregnancy every month while you are using this medicine, and for 6 months after your treatment ends.
- While you are using this medicine, use two forms of birth control to avoid getting pregnant. Keep using two forms for at least 6 months after your treatment ends. This is very important for both men and women. Men using ribavirin might need to use a condom with a spermicide such as nonoxynol-9 as one form of birth control.
- Make sure your doctor knows if you have HIV or AIDS, cancer, breathing problems, mental health problems (such as depression or anxiety), lupus, psoriasis, or a thyroid disorder. Tell your doctor if you have a history of heart disease or high blood pressure, or if you have alcohol or drug addiction.
- Tell your doctor if you have lung disease such as sarcoidosis, or if you have had an organ transplant. Your doctor should know if you have kidney disease, blood circulation problems, a blood disorder, hepatitis B, diabetes, or Gilbert's disease.
- This medicine lowers the number of some types of blood cells in your body. Because of this, you may bleed or get infections more easily. To help with these problems, avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Wash your hands often. Stay away from rough sports or other situations where you could be bruised, cut, or injured. Brush and floss your teeth gently. Be careful when using sharp objects, including razors and fingernail clippers.Your doctor will need to check your blood at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.
- This medicine will not keep you from giving hepatitis C to other people. Follow your doctor's instructions about how to prevent the spread of this infection.
- This medicine may make you dizzy or drowsy. Avoid driving, using machines, or doing anything else that could be dangerous if you are not alert.
- For some children and teenagers, this medicine can increase thoughts of suicide. All of the warnings in this leaflet are true for a child or teenager who is using this medicine. Tell your doctor right away if you start to feel more depressed. Also tell your doctor right away if you have thoughts about hurting yourself. Report any unusual thoughts or behaviors that trouble you, especially if they are new or get worse quickly. Make sure your caregiver knows if you have trouble sleeping, get upset easily, have a big increase in energy, or start to act reckless. Also tell your doctor if you have sudden or strong feelings, such as feeling nervous, angry, restless, violent, or scared. Let your doctor know if you or anyone in your family has bipolar disorder (manic-depressive) or has tried to commit suicide.
- This medicine may cause teeth and gum problems. A dry mouth may also damage your teeth and gums if you take this medicine for a long time. To help prevent this condition, carefully brush your teeth at least two times a day and have regular visits with your dentist.
- Some patients who have used this medicine may experience vomiting. If you vomit during your treatment, rinse your mouth out with water. This may also help prevent damage to your teeth and gums.
Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine
Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:
- Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing.
- Bloody or black, tarry stools.
- Chest pain, uneven heartbeats.
- Dark-colored urine or pale stools, yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (new or worse).
- Depressed mood, thoughts of hurting yourself or others.
- Fever, chills, sore throat, and body aches.
- Problems with vision.
- Sudden and severe stomach pain, lower back pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, lightheadedness.
- Trouble breathing.
- Unusual bleeding, bruising, pale skin, or weakness.
- Worsening of psoriasis.
If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:
- Changes in taste.
- Cough, runny or stuffy nose.
- Headache, irritability, or trouble sleeping.
- Mild nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, or loss of appetite.
- Mild skin rash or itching, hair loss.
- Muscle or joint pain.
- Tired feeling.