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Ribavirin Oral capsule

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.

How should I use this medicine?

Take this medicine by mouth with a glass of water. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Take this medicine with food,. Do not cut, crush, or chew this medicine. 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 side effects may I notice from receiving this medicine?

Side effects that you should report to your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible:

  • allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue

  • back or stomach pain

  • black or bloody diarrhea

  • breathing problems

  • changes in vision

  • chest pain

  • dark urine

  • depressed mood, thoughts of suicide

  • dizziness, lightheaded

  • fever or chills, sore throat

  • general ill feeling or flu-like symptoms

  • light-colored stools

  • loss of appetite, nausea

  • missed menstrual period

  • right upper belly pain

  • unusual bleeding or bruising

  • unusually weak or tired

  • yellowing of the eyes or skin

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your doctor or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):

  • cough

  • difficulty hearing or ringing in the ears

  • increased hunger or thirst

  • increased urination

  • itchy skin

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 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.

Where should I keep my medicine?

Keep out of the reach of children.

Store at room temperature between 15 and 30 degrees C (59 and 86 degrees F). Throw away any unused medicine after the expiration date.

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

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.

Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Akin, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith, RN, MSN, FNP, CCRC
Date Last Reviewed: 2/20/2013
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.