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What does it do?

Ribavirin is used with other medicines to treat Hepatitis C virus infection.

Before you start

  • Tell your doctor if you have heart, blood, or kidney problems, or if you have HIV.
  • Ribavirin must not be used if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding because of a high risk of abnormalities in the developing baby. It is very important to wait at least 6 months after stopping ribavirin before trying to get pregnant.
  • Both men and women should use reliable contraception while taking ribavirin and for 6 months after stopping.
  • Your doctor may do a heart test (ECG) before you start and while you are taking ribavirin.

How should you take it?

Take ribavirin as directed with food and a glass of water. It is very important to take it regularly. If you often forget to take ribavirin, it may not work as well.

What if you forget a dose?

If it is nearly time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the usual time. Otherwise, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Do not take two doses at the same time.

Can you take other medicines?

Tell your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines or treatments that you may be taking, including vitamins, herbal products or recreational drugs.

What side effects might you notice?

Side EffectsRecommended action

Symptoms of liver problems including: yellow skin or eyes, itching, dark urine, pale bowel motions, abdominal pain

Reduced number of blood cells that fight infections in your body - symptoms include: fever, chills, sore throat or generally feeling unwell

Tired, dizzy, short of breath, pale skin (may be anaemia)

Chest pain

Tell your doctor immediately

Low mood, irritability

Tell your doctor

Loss of appetite, weight loss, diarrhoea, indigestion, nausea

Dry mouth, changes in taste


Headache, trouble sleeping

Dry, itchy or red skin, more sensitive to sunlight (sunburn or rash)

Tell your doctor if troublesome

If you notice any other effects, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Other information:

  • You will need regular blood tests while taking ribavirin to monitor its effects on your liver and blood.
  • Do not stop taking ribavirin without talking to your doctor first.

This leaflet contains important, but not all, information about this medicine.

Prepared by the MyMedicines Committee at Christchurch Hospital, Te Whatu Ora - Waitaha, New Zealand. March 2023

For more general information about this sheet and its contents, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

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About My Medicines

My Medicines Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) contain important, but not all, information about the medicines they describe.

For more information about the sheets, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

My Medicines is developed by a team at Te Whatu Ora – Waitaha. Our team is made up of doctors, pharmacists, and a non-medical person to help us keep to plain language. We also discuss our information with specialist health professionals or groups when needed