Ribavirin

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Question

What are the side effects of ribavirin?

Answer

Ribavirin (Copegus«, Rebetol« and Ribasphere«) is an oral antiviral medication, which is taken daily. It can be given as oral inhalation to treat a type of viral pneumonia in infants. It is also used in the treatment of viral hepatitis C. However, it is not used alone to treat hepatitis C. Instead, it is taken in combination with interferon (Intron-A« and Infergen«) or pegylated interferon (Pegasys« and Peg-Intron«). Ribavirin is believed to work by interfering with the survival and multiplication of the hepatitis C virus. There may be other uses for ribavirin that are not yet approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

Potential ribavirin side effects

The reported side effects of ribavirin may include rash, itching, nausea, loss of appetite, headache, fatigue, and conjunctivitis. If any of these side effects become bothersome or severe, be sure to notify your doctor immediately. Serious side effects caused by ribavirin include severe anemia (low red blood cell count), decreased blood pressure, pancreatitis, heart disease such as heart attacks, and respiratory issues. Therefore, patients should be closely monitored by a healthcare professional while on this medication. Ribavirin can also cause birth defects. Women should avoid getting pregnant for 6 months after treatment or after their male partner's treatment with ribavirin.

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