1 What is Copegus?

Brand: Copegus, Rebetol, RibaPak, Ribasphere, Ribasphere Ribapak, RibaTab

Generic: Ribavirin

Brand name:

Copegus, Rebetol, RibaPak, Ribasphere, Ribasphere Ribapak, RibaTab

Ribavirin is used in conjunction with an interferon, which could be peginterferon alfa-2a or peginterferon alfa-2b.

It is prescribed for patients with hepatitis C who haven’t had prior interferon treatment. It belongs to a class of antiviral drugs called nucleoside analogues. It stops the virus from spreading in the body.

The ribavirin and peginterferon alfa-2b combination is usually used to treat children 3 years old and older as well as adults.

It is a prescription drug and cannot be bought without one.

It can be found in tablet, solution and capsule forms.

2 What to Know Before Using

Weigh your options before you decide on any type of treatment. It is important that you discuss the pros and cons of using ribavirin with your physician.

Consider the following factors before your start taking this medication:

  • Allergies: inform your doctor if you are allergic to ribavirin or any of its ingredients. Also, tell your healthcare team about allergies to food, preservatives, dyes, and/or animals.
  • Age-related conditions may put elderly patients at risk for adverse reactions.
  • If you are pregnant, do not use this medication and inform your physician.
  • The issue of breastfeeding while on this medication should be discussed with your doctor.
  • Drug interactions: you should not take Ribavirin if you are on didanosine. If you are taking abacavir, azathioprine, mercaptopurine, stavudine, zalcitabine, or zidovudine, your doctor may change the dosing and/or timing of ribavirin and the other medication. Using ribavirin with any one of those is usually not recommended but is sometimes necessary. This also includes interferon alfa-2b.

Consuming alcohol while on ribavirin can worsen your liver disease, so do not drink alcoholic beverages when taking this medication.

Lastly, inform your physician if you have other medical conditions that may increase or decrease the efficacy of this medication.

If you have liver failure, kidney disease, or autoimmune hepatitis, your physician may not prescribe ribavirin for you.

Other conditions you should take note of are:

3 Proper Usage

Always follow doctor’s orders. It is important that you complete your ribavirin course and not stop taking it once you or your loved one is feeling better. Take this medication on a consistent schedule. This allows the drug to have a steady level in your body, which increases its ability to fight off the infection.

Take this medication with food and drink lots of fluids while you’re on it. It is important that you do not crush, break or open capsules.

Read the Medication Guide and talk to your doctors if you have any questions on how to take ribavirin.

For dosing, make sure that you take the right dosage at the correct schedule. Talk to your physician about your dosing concerns.

If you forget to take the medication, take the missed dose. However, do not take it if the next schedule is close. Never double dose.

Make sure you keep your ribavirin out of your children’s reach. Store the liquid form in the refrigerator.

4 Precautions to Take

It is imperative that your doctor monitors your progress on a regular basis.

Ribavirin is not prescribed to pregnant women because it has been found to be harmful to the unborn child. It is, therefore, important that you or your partner do not get pregnant while on this medication. If a pregnancy does occur, inform your physician as soon as possible.

Copegus® should not be used with Videx® or Videx® EC since using this combination can cause serious medical issues.

Inform your physician if you have allergies to this ribavirin or any of its components. Also, share information on food, preservative and animal allergies with your health care team.

Avoid consuming alcohol while taking ribavirin. Ribavirin and peginterferon combination can decrease your white blood cell count, which increases the risk of infection and bleeding.

Precautionary measures must be taken to avoid this. These include but are not limited to avoiding people you have active infections, practicing proper hygiene, and avoiding sharp objects. For a complete list of precautionary measures, talk to your physician.

Lastly, do not take over-the-counter medications without asking your doctor first.

5 Potential Side Effects

There are effects of ribavirin that need medical attention and some that are resolved without treatment.

If you have any of the following signs and symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

Common signs that need treatment include anxiety, body aches or pain, black or tarry stools, chest pain, congestion, depersonalization, diarrhea, labored breathing, discouragement, dry mouth, dysphoria, feeling unusually cold, fever or chills, general feeling of discomfort or illness, headache, hyperventilation, irregular heartbeats, joint pain, irritability, lack of appetite, lower back or side pain, mental depression, muscle aches and pains, nervousness, nausea, painful urination, pale skin, poor concentration, paranoia, mood swings, restlessness, right upper abdominal or stomach pain, shivering, sleeplessness, mouth sores, sweating, tightness in the chest, trouble with swallowing, unusual bleeding or bruising, wheezing, voice changes, and vomiting.

Rare symptoms include:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Constipation
  • Depressed mood
  • Hair loss
  • Pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • Slowed heartbeat
  • Weight gain

Common symptoms that may not need medical attention include:

  • Sour stomach
  • Forgetfulness
  • Belching
  • Blurred vision
  • Bone pain
  • Change in your sense of taste
  • Skin irritation
  • Difficulty with moving
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Heartburn
  • Menstrual changes
  • Tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
  • Swollen joints

Uncommon symptoms include:

  • Back pain
  • Dry eyes
  • Excessive tearing
  • Feeling of warmth
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Swelling of the eye, eyelid, or inner lining of the eyelid

Call your physician if these symptoms persist.

If you have signs or symptoms that are not listed above, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.

6 Related Clinical Trials