Read this Medication Guide carefully before you start taking ribavirin tablets and read the Medication Guide each time you get more ribavirin tablets. There may be new information. This information does not take the place of talking to your healthcare provider about your medical condition or your treatment.
What is the most important information I should know about ribavirin tablets?
1. Ribavirin tablets may cause birth defects or death of an unborn child. Therefore, if you are pregnant or your partner is pregnant or plans to become pregnant, do not take ribavirin tablets. Female patients and female partners of male patients being treated with ribavirin tablets must not becomepregnant during treatment and for 6 months after treatment has stopped.
During this time you must have pregnancy tests that show you are not pregnant. You must also use 2 effective forms of birth control during therapy and for 6 months after stopping therapy. Male patients should use a condom with spermicide as one of the two forms.
If pregnancy occurs, report the pregnancy to your healthcare provider right away. (See " What should I avoid while taking ribavirin tablets? ")
If you or a female sexual partner becomes pregnant, you should tell your healthcare provider. There is a Ribavirin Pregnancy Registry that collects information about pregnancy outcomes of female patients and female partners of male patients exposed to ribavirin. You or your healthcare provider are encouraged to contact the Registry at 1-800-593-2214.
2. Ribavirin tablets can cause a dangerous drop in your red blood cell count.
Ribavirin tablets can cause anemia, which is a decrease in the number of red blood cells. This can be dangerous, especially if you have heart or breathing problems. This may cause a worsening of heart (cardiovascular) or circulatory problems. Some patients may get chest pain and rarely, a heart attack. Patients with a history of heart disease have the highest chance of this. Tell your healthcare provider, before taking ribavirin tablets if you have or have ever had any heart or breathing problems. Your healthcare provider should check your red blood cell count before you start treatment with ribavirin tablets and often during the first 4 weeks of treatment. Your red blood cell count may be done more often if you have any heart or breathing problems.
3. Do not take ribavirin tablets alone to treat hepatitis C virus infection.
Ribavirin tablet does not treat hepatitis C virus infections by itself. Ribavirin tablets should be used in combination with peginterferon alfa-2a to treat continuing (chronic) hepatitis C virus infections. You should read the Medication Guide for peginterferon alfa-2a because it has additional important information about treatment that is not covered in this Medication Guide. Your healthcare provider or pharmacist should give you a copy of the peginterferon alfa-2a Medication Guide.
What is ribavirin tablet?
Ribavirin tablet is the antiviral medicine containing ribavirin. It is used in combination with a medicine called peginterferon alfa-2a to treat some adults with chronic hepatitis C whose liver still works normally, and who have not been treated before with a medicine called an interferon alpha. It is not known how ribavirin tablets and peginterferon alfa-2a work together to fight hepatitis C virus infections.
It is not known if treatment with ribavirin tablets and peginterferon alfa-2a combination therapy can cure hepatitis C or if it can prevent liver damage (cirrhosis), liver failure or liver cancer that is caused by hepatitis C virus infections. It is not known if treatment with ribavirin tablets and peginterferon alfa-2a combination therapy will prevent an infected person from spreading the hepatitis C virus to another person.
Treatment with ribavirin tablet has not been studied in children under 18 years of age.
Who should not take ribavirin tablets?
Do not use ribavirin tablets if:
Tell your healthcare provider before starting treatment with ribavirin tablets in combination with peginterferon alfa-2a (see also the peginterferon alfa-2a Medication Guide) if you have any of the following medical conditions:
mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety: Ribavirin tablets and peginterferon alfa-2a combination therapy may make them worse. Tell your healthcare provider if you are being treated or had treatment in the past for any mental problems, including depression, thoughts of ending your life (suicidal thoughts) or a feeling of loss of contact with reality, such as hearing voices or seeing things that are not there (psychosis). Tell your healthcare provider if you take any medicines for these problems.
high blood pressure, heart problems or have had a heart attack. Ribavirin tablets may worsen heart problems such as high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and chest pain. Tell your healthcare provider if you have or had a heart problem. Patients who have had certain heart problems should not take ribavirin tablets.
blood disorders, including anemia (low red blood cell count), thalassemia (Mediterranean anemia) and sickle-cell anemia. Ribavirin tablets can reduce the number of red blood cells you have. This may make you feel dizzy or weak and could worsen any heart problems you might have.
kidney problems. If your kidneys do not work properly, you may have worse side effects from ribavirin tablets treatment and require a lower dose.
liver problems (other than hepatitis C virus infection).
organ transplant, and you are taking medicine that keeps your body from rejecting your transplant (suppresses your immune system).
thyroid disease. Ribavirin tablets and peginterferon alfa-2a combination therapy may make your thyroid disease worse or harder to treat. Ribavirin tablets and peginterferon alfa-2a treatment may be stopped if you develop thyroid problems that cannot be controlled by medicine.
have or had drug or alcohol addiction or abuse.
infection with hepatitis B virus.
diabetes. Ribavirin tablets and peginterferon alfa-2a combination therapy may make your diabetes worse or harder to treat.
past interferon treatment for hepatitis C virus infection that did not work for you.
Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins or herbal supplements. Some medicines can cause serious side effects if taken while you also take ribavirin tablets. Some medicines may affect how ribavirin tablets work or ribavirin tablets may affect how your other medicines work. Be especially sure to tell your healthcare provider if you take any medicines to treat HIV.
For more information see the peginterferon alfa-2a Medication Guide.
How should I take ribavirin tablets?
- Your healthcare provider will determine the right dose of ribavirin tablets based on your weight.
- Take ribavirin tablets 1 time in the morning and 1 time at night (2 times a day). Take ribavirin tablets the same 2 times each day.
- Take ribavirin tablets with food.
- It is very important to follow your dosing schedule and your healthcare provider's instructions on how to take your medicines.
- Take ribavirin tablets for as long as it is prescribed, and do not take more than your healthcare provider prescribes.
- If you miss a dose of ribavirin tablets and remember the same day, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If the whole day has passed, ask your healthcare provider what to do. Do not take 2 doses at the same time.
- Your healthcare provider may adjust your dose of ribavirin tablets based on blood tests that show your response to treatment and side effects you may have.
Females taking ribavirin tablets or female sexual partners of male patients taking ribavirin tablets must have a pregnancy test:
- before treatment begins
- every month during treatment
- for 6 months after treatment ends to make sure there is no pregnancy
It is also important not to use other ribavirin medicines without talking to your healthcare provider. Please see the peginterferon alfa-2a Medication Guide for the proper use of peginterferon alfa-2a injection.
What should I avoid while taking ribavirin tablets?
Avoid the following during ribavirin tablets treatment:
Do not get pregnant. If you or your sexual partner get pregnant during treatment with ribavirin tablets or in the 6 months after treatment ends, tell your healthcare provider right away. (See " What is the most important information I should know about ribavirin tablets? ")
Talk with your healthcare provider about birth control methods and how to avoid pregnancy. You must use extreme care to avoid pregnancy during and for 6 months after treatment in female and male patients.
Do not take ribavirin tablets alone to treat your hepatitis C virus infection. Ribavirin tablets should be used in combination with peginterferon alfa-2a to treat chronic hepatitis C virus infections. (See " What is the most important information I should know about ribavirin tablets? ")
Do not breast feed. Ribavirin tablets may pass through your milk and may harm your baby.
Do not drink alcohol, including beer, wine, and liquor. This may make your liver disease worse.
Do not drive or operate machinery if ribavirin tablet makes you feel tired, dizzy or confused.
Do not take other medicines unless your healthcare provider knows about them. Take only medicines prescribed or approved by your healthcare provider. These include prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins or herbal supplements. Talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new medicine.
What are the possible side effects of ribavirin tablets?
The most serious possible side effects of ribavirin tablets are:
Harm to unborn children. Ribavirin tablets may cause birth defects or death of an unborn child. (For more details, see " What is the most important information I should know about ribavirin tablets? ")
Anemia. Anemia is a reduction in the number of red blood cells you have. Anemia can be dangerous, especially if you have heart or breathing problems. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you feel tired, have chest pain or shortness of breath. These may be signs of low red blood cell counts.
Liver Problems. Some patients may develop worsening of liver function. Some of the symptoms may include stomach bloating, confusion, brown urine, and yellow eyes. Tell your healthcare provider immediately if any of these symptoms occur.
Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms. They may be signs of a serious side effect of ribavirin tablets and peginterferon alfa-2a treatment.
- trouble breathing
- hives or swelling
- chest pain
- severe stomach pain or low back pain
- bloody diarrhea or bloody stools (bowel movements). These may look like black tar.
- bruising or unusual bleeding
- change in your vision
- high fever (temperature greater than 100.5°F)
- you have psoriasis (a skin disease) and it gets worse
- you become very depressed or think about suicide (ending your life)
- Skin rash can occur in patients taking peginterferon alfa-2a. In some patients a rash can be serious. If you develop a rash with fever, blisters, or sores in your mouth, nose or eyes or conjunctivitis (red or inflamed eyes, like "pink eye"), stop using peginterferon alfa-2a and call your doctor right away.
The most common side effects of ribavirin tablets are likely to be the same as for other ribavirin products. These are:
- feeling tired
- nausea and appetite loss
- rash and itching
These are not all the possible side effects of ribavirin tablets treatment. For more information, ask your doctor or pharmacist and see the peginterferon alfa-2a Medication Guide.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What should I know about hepatitis C infection?
Hepatitis C infection is a disease caused by a virus that infects the liver. Hepatitis C is more serious for some people than others. Most people who get hepatitis C carry the virus in their blood for the rest of their lives. Most of these people will have some liver damage, but many do not feel sick from the disease. In some people, the liver becomes badly damaged and scarred. This is called cirrhosis. Cirrhosis can cause the liver to stop working. Some people may get liver cancer or liver failure from the hepatitis C virus.
Hepatitis C virus is spread from one person to another by contact with an infected person's blood. You should talk to your healthcare provider about ways to prevent you from infecting others.
How should I store ribavirin tablets?
Store between 20° - 25°C (68° - 77°F).
Please refer to the peginterferon alfa-2a Medication Guide for storage information about peginterferon alfa-2a injection.
General information about the safe and effective use of ribavirin tablets
Medicines are sometimes prescribed for purposes other than those listed in a Medication Guide. Do not use ribavirin tablets for a condition for which it was not prescribed. Do not give ribavirin tablets to other people, even if they have the same symptoms that you have.
This Medication Guide summarizes the most important information about ribavirin tablets. If you would like more information, talk with your healthcare provider. You can ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for information about ribavirin tablets that is written for healthcare professionals.
What are the ingredients in ribavirin tablets?
Active Ingredient: ribavirin
Inactive Ingredients: crospovidone, hypromellose, iron oxide red, iron oxide yellow, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polyethylene glycol, povidone, silicon dioxide, talc and titanium dioxide.
This Medication Guide has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.