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Ribavirin is used in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection
It is used in combination with interferon.

How it works

Ribavirin prevents the multiplication of the virus in human cells. Thus stops the virus from producing new viruses.

Common side effects

Headache, Nausea, Loss of appetite, Impaired concentration, Abdominal pain, Insomnia (difficulty in sleeping), Dizziness, Diarrhoea

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Expert advice

  • This drug should be used only in combination with pegylated alfa interferon.
  • Take precautions as ribavirin may cause low red cell count (anaemia) that can worsen any heart problems you have and can cause you to have a heart attack that can be life-threatening.
  • Do not drive or operate machinery as ribavirin may make you drowsy, dizzy, or confused. 
  • Do consult your doctor if you have liver problems other than HCV (e.g. cirrhosis or have had a liver transplant), HIV infection, kidney problems or depression.
  • Take necessary precautions as ribavirin does not prevent the spread of infection to other people through sexual contact, sharing needles, or contact with blood.
  • Drink extra fluids to stay hydrated during treatment with ribavirin.

Frequently asked questions



How does ribavirin work?
Ribavirin belongs to a class of antiviral medications called nucleoside analogues. It decreases the amount of Hepatitis C virus in the body by blocking its growth, resulting in less liver damage and improved liver function


What are the severe side effects of ribavirin?
Ribavirin may cause anemia that can worsen any heart problems and can cause a heart attack that can be life-threatening. Call your doctor immediately in case you experience excessive tiredness, pale skin, headache, dizziness, confusion, fast heartbeat, weakness, shortness of breath, or chest pain.

Content on this page was last updated on 29 March, 2017, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)