What are ribavirin tablets? RIBAVIRIN (Copegus®) is an antiviral agent used to treat hepatitis C in combination with peginterferon alfa. It is not for the treatment of simple viral infections or other types of hepatitis infections. Generic ribavirin tablets are available.
What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?
They need to know if you have any of these conditions: • anemia • breathing problems • heart disease such as angina or history of a heart attack • high blood pressure • human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection • kidney disease • liver disease (other than hepatitis C) • pancreatitis • past interferon treatment for hepatitis C that did not work • prior organ transplant • sickle-cell disease • thalassemia • an unusual or allergic reaction to ribavirin, interferons, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives • pregnant or trying to get pregnant • breast-feeding How should I use this medicine? Ribavirin tablets are taken by mouth in the morning and the evening. Swallow tablets with a drink of water. Ribavirin tablets should be taken with food. Your prescriber or health care professional will determine the exact dose. Follow the directions on your prescription package. Take your doses at regular intervals. Do not take your medicine more often than directed. Finish the full course prescribed by your prescriber or health care professional even if you think your condition is better. Do not stop taking except on your prescriber's advice.
Do NOT share this medicine with anyone else.
Contact your pediatrician or health care professional regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed. What if I miss a dose? If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses. What drug(s) may interact with ribavirin? • medicines to treat HIV, especially zidovudine (AZT), lamivudine, or stavudine (d4T)
Tell your prescriber or other health care professional about all other medicines you are taking including non-prescription medicines, nutritional supplements, or herbal products. Also, tell your prescriber or health care professional if you are a frequent user of drinks with caffeine or alcohol, if you smoke or if you use illegal drugs. These may affect the way your medicine works. Check before stopping or starting any of your medications. What side effects may I notice from taking ribavirin tablets? Side effects that you should report to your prescriber or health care professional as soon as possible: • changes in your heart rate • coughing or wheezing • difficulty breathing • dizziness or light-headedness • increased weakness, fatigue or tiredness • missed menstrual cycle
Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your prescriber or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome): • headache • heartburn • itching • nausea • skin rash • vomiting What should I watch for while taking ribavirin tablets? Treatment with ribavirin tablets may last for 24—48 weeks. It is important not to stop treatment even if you are feeling better. You may need to have blood tests done during therapy to evaluate your progress.
Ribavirin may cause severe birth defects or death to the unborn child if taken during pregnancy; therefore if you are pregnant, you must not take ribavirin. Women who can still have children must have a negative pregnancy test before starting treatment then monthly pregnancy tests until 6 months after stopping ribavirin. Female patients and female partners of men taking ribavirin must use 2 forms of effective birth control methods during treatment with ribavirin and for 6 months after stopping ribavirin therapy. If you think you may have become pregnant and are taking ribavirin, contact your prescriber or health care professional right away.
There is no information regarding whether treatment with ribavirin and interferon alfa or peginterferon alfa therapy will prevent the spreading hepatitis C to other people. Also, it is not known if this combination can cure hepatitis C or prevent other complications of hepatitis C infection such as cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer.
Ribavirin therapy may cause anemia (low red blood counts). You will need to have frequent blood checks during the first month of treatment with ribavirin to follow your counts. Where can I keep my medicine? Keep out of the reach of children. NEVER share this medicine with anyone.
Ribavirin tablets should be kept at room temperature between 59—86 degrees F (15—30 degrees C).