Drug information

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Other Names
Copegus, RBV, Rebetol, Ribasphere
Drug Class
Antiviral (Nucleoside Analog)
What is ribavirin?What is ribavirin?

What is ribavirin?

Ribavirin is an antiviral prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus infection (HCV). Ribavirin is always used in combination with other drugs.

HCV infection can be an opportunistic infection (OI) of HIV. An OI is an infection that occurs more frequently or is more severe in people with weakened immune systems—such as people with HIV—than in people with healthy immune systems. To learn more about OIs, read the HIVinfo What is an Opportunistic Infection? fact sheet.

To learn how HIV and HCV are connected, read the HIVinfo HIV and Hepatitis C fact sheet. The fact sheet includes information about how HCV is spread, symptoms of HCV, and treatment options.

How is ribavirin used in people with HIV?How is ribavirin used in people with HIV?

How is ribavirin used in people with HIV?

The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV reference the AASLD-IDSA HCV Guidance: Recommendations for Testing, Managing, and Treating Hepatitis C, which includes recommendations on the use of ribavirin to treat acute and chronic HCV infection in people with HIV.

The recommended uses may not always be consistent with FDA-approved uses of ribavirin. See the AASLD-IDSA HCV Guidelines for complete information on recommended uses of ribavirin in adults and children with HIV. Ribavirin may have other recommended uses not listed above.
What should I tell my health care provider before taking ribavirin?What should I tell my health care provider before taking ribavirin?

What should I tell my health care provider before taking ribavirin?

Before taking ribavirin, tell your health care provider:

  • If you are allergic to ribavirin or any other medicines.
  • About any medical conditions you have or have had, including:
  • If you have ever had treatment for hepatitis C virus infection that did not work for you.
  • About anything that could affect your ability to take medicines, such as difficulty swallowing or remembering to take pills.
  • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Ribavirin should not be used during pregnancy. Talk to your health care provider about the risks of taking ribavirin during pregnancy.
  • If you are breast/chestfeeding or plan to breast/chestfeed. For people with HIV in the United States, the Guideline recommends speaking with your health care provider to discuss options for feeding your baby. People with suppressed viral load have a less than 1% chance of transmitting HIV to their baby via their own milk.
  • About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Ribavirin may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how ribavirin works. Ask your health care provider if there are interactions between ribavirin and the other medicines you take.

Ask your health care provider about possible side effects from ribavirin. Your health care provider will tell you what to do if you have side effects.

How should I take ribavirin?How should I take ribavirin?

How should I take ribavirin?

Take ribavirin according to your health care provider’s instructions. Your health care provider will tell you how much ribavirin to take and when to take it. Before you start ribavirin and each time you get a refill, read any printed information that comes with your medicine.

How should ribavirin be stored?How should ribavirin be stored?

How should ribavirin be stored?

  • Store ribavirin tablets and capsules at room temperature, between 68°F and 77°F (20°C to 25°C).
  • Keep ribavirin in the container that it came in and keep the container tightly closed.
  • Do not use ribavirin if the original seal over the medicine container opening is broken or missing.
  • Throw away ribavirin that is no longer needed or expired (out of date). Follow FDA guidelines on how to safely dispose of unused medicine.
  • Keep ribavirin and all medicines out of reach of children.
Where can I find more information about ribavirin?Where can I find more information about ribavirin?

Where can I find more information about ribavirin?

Last Reviewed: November 14, 2022