Drugs A - Z

Ribavirin Oral solution

It is used with interferon alfa to treat hepatitis C

Generic Name: ribavirin  |  Brand Name: Copegus

Brand Names: Virazole, Rebetol, Ribatab, Moderiba, Copegus, Ribasphere, Ribapak

There is an FDA Alert for this drug. Click here to view it.

  • Ribavirin monotherapy is not effective for treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and should not be used alone for this indication.
  • The principal toxicity of oral ribavirin is hemolytic anemia which may result in worsening of cardiac disease and has resulted in fatal and nonfatal MI. Patients with a history of substantial or unstable cardiac disease should not be given ribavirin.
  • Teratogenic and/or embryocidal effects demonstrated. Ribavirin has a long half-life and may persist in nonplasma compartments for as long as 6 months. Contraindicated in pregnant women and in male partners of women who are pregnant. Extreme care must be taken to avoid pregnancy during and for 6 months following ribavirin therapy in female patients and in female partners of male patients receiving ribavirin. At least 2 reliable forms of contraception must be used during and for 6 months following completion of treatment.
  • Initiation of aerosolized ribavirin (given by nasal or oral inhalation) in infants has resulted in sudden deterioration of respiratory function. Monitor respiratory function carefully. If sudden deterioration of respiratory function occurs, discontinue therapy. Reinstitute with extreme caution and continuous monitoring; consider concomitant administration of a bronchodilator.
  • Ribavirin for nasal or oral inhalation is not indicated in adults.
  • Administer aerosolized ribavirin under the supervision of and by qualified clinicians and support staff experienced with the specific ventilator and mode of administration. Attention must be directed to procedures that minimize accumulation of drug precipitate, which can result in mechanical ventilator dysfunction and associated increased pulmonary pressure.


FDA approved a REMS for ribavirin to ensure that the benefits of a drug outweigh the risks. However, FDA later rescinded REMS requirements. See the FDA REMS page ([Web]) or the ASHP REMS Resource Center ([Web]).

What is this medicine?

RIBAVIRIN (rye ba VYE rin) is an antiviral medicine. It is used with interferon alfa to treat hepatitis C. It will not work for colds, flu, or other viral infections.

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
  • cancer
  • blood disease like sickle-cell or thalassemia
  • diabetes
  • drug abuse or addiction
  • heart disease
  • history of depression, anxiety
  • immune system problems
  • kidney disease
  • low blood counts, like low white cell, platelet, or red cell counts
  • lung or breathing disease, like asthma
  • man with a partner who is pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • other liver disease
  • thyroid disease
  • 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?

Take this medicine by mouth. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Use a specially marked spoon or container to measure each dose. Ask your pharmacist if you do not have one. Household spoons are not accurate. Take this medicine with food. Take your medicine at regular intervals. Do not take your medicine more often than directed. Take all of your medicine as directed even if you think you are better. Do not skip doses or stop your medicine early.

A special MedGuide will be given to you by the pharmacist with each prescription and refill. Be sure to read this information carefully each time.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. While this drug may be prescribed for children as young as 3 years of age for selected conditions, precautions do apply.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose and remember the same day, take it as soon as you remember. If the whole day has passed, ask your healthcare provider what to do. Do not take double or extra doses.

What may interact with this medicine?

Do not take this medicine with the following medication:
  • didanosine, ddI

This medicine may also interact with the following medications:

  • abacavir
  • azathioprine
  • emtricitabine
  • lamivudine
  • stavudine
  • zalcitabine
  • zidovudine

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

See your doctor or health care professional for a follow-up visit as directed. You may need to have tests done to check your progress. Tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve or if they get worse.

This medicine may cause birth defects or death to an unborn child. Women taking this medicine must avoid pregnancy while taking this medicine and for 6 months after stopping this medicine. Men who are taking this medicine must avoid getting a woman pregnant while taking this medicine and for 6 months after stopping this medicine. Use 2 forms of birth control. Women who can still have children must have a negative pregnancy test before starting treatment. Take monthly pregnancy tests while you are taking this medicine and for 6 months after this medicine is stopped. Talk to your doctor if you think that you or your partner are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant.

Do not drink alcohol, including beer, wine, and liquor. This may make your liver disease worse.

You may get drowsy or dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs mental alertness until you know how this medicine affects you. Do not stand or sit up quickly, especially if you are an older patient. This reduces the risk of dizzy or fainting spells.

Your mouth may get dry. Chewing sugarless gum or sucking hard candy, and drinking plenty of water may help. Contact your doctor if the problem does not go away or is severe. Brush your teeth thoroughly twice daily and have regular dental examinations. Also, if you vomit, rinse out your mouth.

Last Updated: February 20, 2013
Licensed from
The Healthline Site, its content, such as text, graphics, images, search results, and other material contained on the Healthline Site ("Content"), its services, and any information or material posted on the Healthline Site by third parties are provided for informational purposes only. None of the foregoing is a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Healthline Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Please read the Terms of Service for more information regarding use of the Healthline Site.