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Rebetol (Ribavirin) - Drug Interactions, Contraindications, Overdosage, etc




Exposure to didanosine or its active metabolite (dideoxyadenosine 5'-triphosphate) is increased when didanosine is coadministered with ribavirin, which could cause or worsen clinical toxicities; therefore, coadministration of REBETOL capsules or oral solution and didanosine is contraindicated. Reports of fatal hepatic failure, as well as peripheral neuropathy, pancreatitis, and symptomatic hyperlactatemia/lactic acidosis have been reported in clinical trials.

Nucleoside Analogues

Hepatic decompensation (some fatal) has occurred in cirrhotic HIV/HCV co-infected patients receiving combination antiretroviral therapy for HIV and interferon alpha and ribavirin. Adding treatment with alpha interferons alone or in combination with ribavirin may increase the risk in this patient population. Patients receiving interferon with ribavirin and nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) should be closely monitored for treatment-associated toxicities, especially hepatic decompensation and anemia. Discontinuation of NRTIs should be considered as medically appropriate (see labeling for individual NRTI product). Dose reduction or discontinuation of interferon, ribavirin, or both should also be considered if worsening clinical toxicities are observed, including hepatic decompensation (e.g., Child-Pugh greater than 6).

Ribavirin may antagonize the cell culture antiviral activity of stavudine and zidovudine against HIV. Ribavirin has been shown in cell culture to inhibit phosphorylation of lamivudine, stavudine, and zidovudine, which could lead to decreased antiretroviral activity. However, in a study with another pegylated interferon in combination with ribavirin, no pharmacokinetic (e.g., plasma concentrations or intracellular triphosphorylated active metabolite concentrations) or pharmacodynamic (e.g., loss of HIV/HCV virologic suppress) interaction was observed when ribavirin and lamivudine (n=18), stavudine (n=10), or zidovudine (n=6) were coadministered as part of a multidrug regimen in HIV/HCV co-infected subjects. Therefore, concomitant use of ribavirin with either of these drugs should be used with caution.

Drugs Metabolized by Cytochrome P-450

Results of in vitro studies using both human and rat liver microsome preparations indicated little or no cytochrome P-450 enzyme-mediated metabolism of ribavirin, with minimal potential for P-450 enzyme-based drug interactions.

No pharmacokinetic interactions were noted between INTRON A and REBETOL capsules in a multiple-dose pharmacokinetic study.


The use of ribavirin for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C in patients receiving azathioprine has been reported to induce severe pancytopenia and may increase the risk of azathioprine-related myelotoxicity. Inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase (IMDH) is required for one of the metabolic pathways of azathioprine. Ribavirin is known to inhibit IMDH, thereby leading to accumulation of an azathioprine metabolite, 6-methylthioinosine monophosphate (6-MTITP), which is associated with myelotoxicity (neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, and anemia). Patients receiving azathioprine with ribavirin should have complete blood counts, including platelet counts, monitored weekly for the first month, twice monthly for the second and third months of treatment, then monthly or more frequently if dosage or other therapy changes are necessary [see Warnings and Precautions].


There is limited experience with overdosage. Acute ingestion of up to 20 g of REBETOL capsules, INTRON A ingestion of up to 120 million units, and subcutaneous doses of INTRON A up to 10 times the recommended doses have been reported. Primary effects that have been observed are increased incidence and severity of the adverse reactions related to the therapeutic use of INTRON A and REBETOL. However, hepatic enzyme abnormalities, renal failure, hemorrhage, and myocardial infarction have been reported with administration of single subcutaneous doses of INTRON A that exceed dosing recommendations.

There is no specific antidote for INTRON A or REBETOL overdose, and hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis are not effective for treatment of overdose of these agents.


REBETOL combination therapy is contraindicated in:

  • women who are pregnant. REBETOL may cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. REBETOL is contraindicated in women who are or may become pregnant. If REBETOL is used during pregnancy, or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking REBETOL, the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to her fetus [see Warnings and Precautions , Use in Specific Populations, and Patient Counseling Information]
  • men whose female partners are pregnant
  • patients with known hypersensitivity reactions such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic, epidermal necrolysis, and erythema multiforme to ribavirin or any component of the product
  • patients with autoimmune hepatitis
  • patients with hemoglobinopathies (e.g., thalassemia major, sickle-cell anemia)
  • patients with creatinine clearance less than 50 mL/min. [see Use in Specific Populations and Clinical Pharmacology]
  • Coadministration of REBETOL and didanosine is contraindicated because exposure to the active metabolite of didanosine (dideoxyadenosine 5'-triphosphate) is increased. Fatal hepatic failure, as well as peripheral neuropathy, pancreatitis, and symptomatic hyperlactatemia/lactic acidosis have been reported in patients receiving didanosine in combination with ribavirin [see Drug Interactions].

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