Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.


a nucleoside analogue that acts as a broad-spectrum antiviral; used in treatment of severe viral pneumonia caused by respiratory syncytial virus, particularly in high-risk infants with underlying conditions such as cardiopulmonary disease; administered by oral inhalation. It is also used in conjunction with interferon alfa-2b in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C, administered orally.


Copegus, Rebetol, Ribasphere, Virazole

Pharmacologic class: Synthetic nucleoside analog

Therapeutic class: Antiviral

Pregnancy risk category X

FDA Box Warning

• Ribavirin monotherapy isn't effective in treating chronic hepatitis C infection and shouldn't be used alone for this indication.

• Drug's main clinical toxicity is hemolytic anemia, which may worsen cardiac disease and lead to fatal and nonfatal myocardial infarctions. Don't administer to patients with history of significant or unstable cardiac disease.

• Drug is contraindicated in pregnant women and their male partners. Caution female patients and female partners of male patients receiving ribavirin to use extreme care to avoid pregnancy during therapy and for 6 months afterward.


Unknown. Thought to inhibit RNA and DNA synthesis by depleting nucleotides and blocking replication and maturation of viral cells.


Capsules: 200 mg

Powder to be reconstituted for inhalation (Virazole): 6 g in 100-ml glass vial

Tablets: 200 mg

Indications and dosages

Chronic hepatitis C infection

Note: Dosage calculated solely on basis of patient's weight.

Adults and children weighing 75 kg (165 lb) or more: 600 mg P.O. q morning and evening, given with interferon alfa-2b

Adults weighing less than 75 kg (165 lb) and children weighing more than 61 kg (134 lb): 400 mg P.O. q morning and 600 mg P.O. q evening, given with interferon alfa-2b

Children weighing 50 to 61 kg (110 to 134 lb): 400 mg P.O. b.i.d., given with interferon alfa-2b

Children weighing 37 to 49 kg (81 to 108 lb): 200 mg P.O. every morning and 400 mg P.O. every evening, given with interferon alfa-2b

Children weighing 25 to 36 kg (55 to 79 lb): 200 mg P.O. b.i.d., given with interferon alfa-2b

Hospitalized children with severe lower respiratory infection caused by respiratory syncytial virus

Infants and young children: 20 mg/ml by inhalation as a starting solution in Viratek Small Particle Aerosol Generator (SPAG-2) for 12 to 18 hours daily for 3 to 7 days. Give by oxygen hood from SPAG-2 unit to infant who isn't mechanically ventilated.

Dosage adjustment

• Cardiovascular disease

• Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

• Renal impairment

• Hemoglobin below 10 g/dl

Off-label uses

• Influenza A or B

• Pneumonia caused by adenovirus

• Severe lower respiratory tract infection in adults

• Genital herpes

• Hemorrhagic fever


• Hypersensitivity to drug or its components

• Autoimmune hepatitis (oral combination therapy)

• Creatinine clearance below 50 ml/minute

• Significant or unstable cardiac disease

• Hemoglobinopathy (such as sickle cell anemia, thalassemia major)

• Females of childbearing age (inhalation form)

• Pregnancy, pregnant partner of male patient (oral drug)

• Breastfeeding


Use cautiously in:

• decompensated hepatic disease, coinfection with hepatitis B or human immunodeficiency virus, COPD

• liver or other transplant recipients

• patients who don't respond to interferon.


Be aware that oral form must be given with interferon alfa-2b injection.

• Give aerosol by Viratek SPAG-2 only. Don't use other aerosol-generating equipment.

• Dilute powder in sterile water for injection. Don't use solutions with antimicrobial ingredients.

• Know that drug may be given by oral or nasal inhalation.

• Discard solution in SPAG-2 every 24 hours before adding new solution.

Avoid prolonged contact with aerosol, which can cause headache or eye irritation.

Adverse reactions

CNS: fatigue, headache, nervousness, depression, suicidal ideation

CV: hypotension, bradycardia (with inhalation form), cardiac arrest

EENT: conjunctivitis, eyelid erythema or rash

GI: nausea, dyspepsia, anorexia, pancreatitis

Hematologic: reticulocytosis, hemolytic anemia

Respiratory: bacterial pneumonia, pneumothorax, bronchospasm, pulmonary edema, apnea, worsening respiratory status (with inhalation form)

Skin: rash, pruritus


Drug-drug. Abacavir, didanosine, lamivudine, stavudine, zalcitabine, zidovudine: potentially fatal lactic acidosis

Stavudine, zidovudine: decreased antiviral activity

Drug-diagnostic tests. Alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, bilirubin: increased levels

Hemoglobin: decreased level

Reticulocytes: increased count

Patient monitoring

Carefully monitor patient's respiratory status. Check ventilator often to ensure that drug precipitates don't impede function.

Monitor ECG and vital signs. Watch for hypotension, bradycardia, and other signs of impending cardiac arrest or worsening respiratory condition.

Assess neurologic status. Stay alert for depression and suicidal ideation.

• Monitor liver function tests and CBC with white cell differential.

Patient teaching

• Explain drug delivery system and precautions carefully to patient or to parents of children receiving inhalation form.

Tell patient or parents that drug may cause depression or suicidal thoughts, which should be reported immediately.

Instruct patient or parents to immediately report new or worsening respiratory symptoms.

• Counsel sexually active patients (both males and females) about appropriate birth control. Tell them to use extreme care to avoid pregnancy. Stress importance of using two forms of effective contraception during and for 6 months after treatment (when using oral ribavirin).

• Advise female patient not to breastfeed.

• As appropriate, review all other significant and life-threatening adverse reactions and interactions, especially those related to the drugs and tests mentioned above.


/ri·ba·vi·rin/ (ri″bah-vi´rin) a broad-spectrum antiviral used in the treatment of severe viral pneumonia caused by respiratory syncytial virus, particularly in high-risk infants; also used in conjunction with interferon alfa-2b in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C.


A synthetic antiviral ribonucleoside that inhibits DNA and RNA replication.


an aerosol antiviral drug.
indications It is prescribed for the treatment of respiratory syncytial virus infections for the lower respiratory tract in infants and small children.
contraindications It is not recommended for infants requiring assisted ventilation.
adverse effects Reported side effects include bacterial pneumonia, pneumothorax, apnea, hypotension, and cardiac arrest, conditions that may also have resulted from the patient's underlying disease; deteriorated respiratory function; rash; conjunctivitis; and reticulocytosis.


Rebetol® Virology An oral ribavirin, a synthetic nucleoside analogue and broad-spectrum antiviral. See Rebetron.


An antiviral drug effective against a range of both DNA and RNA viruses including the herpes group and those causing hepatitis, and several strains of influenza.


A drug that is used to combat viral infections.
Mentioned in: Hemorrhagic Fevers


a broad-spectrum, non-interferon inducing, antiviral nucleoside.
References in periodicals archive ?
The patient's HCV was Q80K positive but clinical evidence available at that time revealed minimal impact on SVR when simeprevir was combined with sofosbuvir with or without ribavirin [8].
Part 1 peginterferon alfa-2a + ribavirin (ATC code L03AB11 + J05AB04) 2700 operating seven (-) 50% deviation;
Twelve patients were treated with ribavirin after a median delay of 1 month (range 0.
Part B of the C-WORTHY trial tested MK-5172 plus MK-8742 with or without ribavirin for 12 weeks in 403 people with HCV genotype 1, including 59 with HIV.
Indeed, sustained virologic response at 12 weeks after the end of treatment (SVR12) in ION-1 in treatment-naive patients (n = 865) was 99% with the daily pill alone and 97% if ribavirin also was given.
Ribavirin was administered intraperitoneally in different doses to these groups that were 20 mg, 100 mg and 200 mg/ kg body weight, while group A was control.
Fever continued to spike and ribavirin (2 g loading then 4 g/day maintenance) was started with thrombocyte replacement.
John Ryan, PhD, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer of Kadmon, said, 'Anemia, particularly severe anemia, is an important concern with hepatitis C treatments, one which may be effectively controlled through ribavirin dose reduction.
placebo with peginterferon alfa-2a plus ribavirin for 12 weeks, followed by 36 weeks of peginterferon alfa-2a plus ribavirin (Group 3).
Victrelis is approved for the treatment of CHC genotype 1 infection, in combination with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin, in adult patients (18 years of age or older) with compensated liver disease, including cirrhosis, who are previously untreated or have failed previous interferon and ribavirin therapy.
According to the company, VICTRELIS is the first in a new class of medicines known as hepatitis C virus (HCV) protease inhibitors approved for use in combination with peginterferon alfa and ribavirin, which is the current standard therapy, for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C.