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Current and Future Medications for Hepatitis C (cont.)

Ribavirin Drugs

Patient Comments

Ribavirin (RBV) drugs include medications such as Rebetol, Copegus, Ribasphere, RibaPak, and Moderiba. Interferons require ribavirin to increase effectiveness against hepatitis C. Some patients with certain hepatitis C genotypes must take ribavirin along with oral drug combinations.

How do ribavirin drugs work?

Ribavirin is a nucleoside analogue. Nucleoside analogues are man-made chemicals that closely resemble the building blocks of genetic material (RNA and DNA). Ribavirin works by tricking the HCV virus into using it instead of the normal building blocks of RNA, thereby slowing viral replication. By itself, ribavirin has little effect on HCV, but it does help interferon work better.

Who should not use ribavirin?

Individuals with allergy to ribavirin and those with severe kidney disease should not take these drugs. Because of the risk of birth defects, pregnant women, and men whose partners are pregnant, should not take ribavirin. Once treatment is started, both men and women must practice effective birth control measures during treatment and for 6 months after stopping ribavirin.

Dosage and Administration:

Ribavirin tablets or capsules are taken each day.

Drug or food interactions:

  • Bexaropine, azathioprine (Azasan, Imuran), didanosine (Videx, Videx EC), and mercaptopurine (Purinethol) have major drug interactions with ribavirin. When taken with bexarotene (Targretin) or didanosine (Videx), life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas has occurred. Azathioprine and mercaptopurine can reduce bone marrow function if given with ribavirin.
  • Didanosine is no longer marketed for treatment of HIV. The other medications are not commonly prescribed except in people with cancer or transplants.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/21/2016
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Hepatitis C - Interferons

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Hepatitis C - Ribavirin

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The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 170 million individuals worldwide are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV).

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