An Overview of Ribavirin (Copegus, Rebetol, Virazole)
February 12, 2007
Brand Name: Copegus, Rebetol, Virazole
Ribavirin, also known as Copegus, Rebetol, Virazole, or a component of Rebetron, is a type of antiviral medicine called a nucleoside analogue. This medicine blocks the ability of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) to make more copies of itself. Ribavirin is not active against HIV.
Indications and Usage
Ribavirin is used in combination with interferon alfa-2a or -2b or peginterferon alfa-2a or -2b to treat HIV infected patients who are also infected with HCV. (See individual drug fact sheets for interferon alfa-2 and peginterferon alfa-2 for more information.)
Ribavirin comes in capsule and tablet form and is taken by mouth. A solution for inhalation is used in hospitals for children with a life-threatening viral infection of the lungs.
Individuals should tell a doctor about any medical problems before taking this medicine. Women who are pregnant and male partners of pregnant women should not take ribavirin.
Possible Side Effects
Along with its desired effects, ribavirin may cause some unwanted effects. While not all of these side effects are known, ribavirin may cause anemia (a decrease in red blood cells). This may be dangerous in patients who have heart or breathing problems and may make heart or circulatory problems worse. Other side effects of ribavirin use include chest pain, difficulty breathing, unusual tiredness or weakness, headache, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, and nausea. Individuals should tell a doctor if they have any of these side effects. Other side effects may not be serious and may lessen or disappear with continued use of the medicine. Side effects with the use of inhaled ribavirin include skin irritation due to prolonged drug contact and skin rash. Health care workers who help in the administration of inhaled doses sometime may have headache and itching, redness, or swelling of the eyes. Individuals should tell a doctor if these side effects continue or are bothersome.
A doctor should be notified of any other medications being taken, including prescription, nonprescription (over-the-counter), or herbal medications.
Click here to search ClinicalTrials.gov for trials that use Ribavirin.
This article was provided by AIDSinfo. Visit the AIDSinfo website to find out more about their activities and publications.