Rebetol (Ribavirin) and/or alternatives
No Generic Alternative.
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General Information On Rebetol
Rebetol or Ribavirin is an oral medication used to treat chronic Hepatitis C in patients with compensated liver disease. You can buy Rebetol for patients who are over 3 years of age, and usually, it is given in combination with an interferon alfa product, both pegylated and non-pegylated.
Side Effects for Rebetol
Stop taking Rebetol and seek medical help if you experience any of the serious side effects such as vision problems, fever, body ache, chills, flu symptoms, severe pain in the upper stomach going towards your back, vomiting, nausea, fast heart rate, stabbing chest pain, shortness of breath, severe depression, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, pale or yellow skin, easy bruising and bleeding, unusual weakness, and dark urine. Some of the mild effects of the drug include headache, dry mouth, muscle pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, anxiety, nausea, and mood changes. Most of these mild side effects diminish on their own, but if they worsen or persist, then you need to stop taking the medicine and contact your doctor immediately.
Rebetol is used only in combination with interferon alfa products and cannot be effective in treating the disease when taken alone. You should also not take the drug if you have had/have liver disease, a hemoglobin disorder like thalassemia or anemia, autoimmune hepatitis, or if you are taking Didanosine or Videx. Rebetol causes birth defects and even death of an unborn baby, and therefore, you should not take it if you are pregnant. You should also not take Rebetol if your sexual partner is pregnant, as it may harm the unborn child. Rebetol decreases red blood cell count, and therefore, it may lead to anemia. As such, you need to get your blood tested regularly and contact your doctor immediately if you experience fever, chest pain, confusion, dark urine, yellow or pale skin, and have trouble breathing. Try to drink lots of fluids in order to prevent dehydration, especially in hot weather or during exercise. Since Rebetol causes a dry mouth, it may lead to gum disease or tooth decay. Therefore, it is also important to get regular dental examinations undertaken while taking Rebetol. Avoid alcoholic beverages, as they may increase your risk of developing liver damage. You should also not drive or operate heavy machinery as the drug may impair your reflexes and concentration for a while.
Rebetol 1200mg per day is given to patients, along with Intron A injections for 24 to 48 weeks, followed by a 24 week follow up period. If the patient weighs less than 75 kilograms, then he or she will be given Rebetol 1000mg per day, instead of the regular 1200mg. Do not discontinue taking the medicine or decrease or increase its dose without consulting your doctor.
Inform your doctor if you are already taking Ziagen, Epivir, Trizivir, Epzicom, Combivir, Zerit, Viread, Hivid, AZT or Retrovir. You should also not buy Rebetol if you are taking anti-HIV drugs, antacids and Didanosine. Also inform your doctor about all the prescription and non-prescription drugs you are taking at present.
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What is a "Generic" medication/drug?
Generic drugs are medications that have comparable medicinal ingredients as the original brand name drug, but which are generally cheaper in price. Nearly 1 in 3 drugs dispensed are "generic". They undergo testing to ensure that they are similar to their "brand" counterparts in:
- Active Ingredient (e.g. "Pravastatin" is the active ingredient in brand name Pravachol)
- Dosage (e.g. 10 mg of the active ingredient)
- Safety (e.g. same or similar side effects, drug interactions)
- Performance (e.g. 10 mg of a "generic" can be substituted for 10 mg of the "brand" and have the same therapeutic result)
- Intended use (e.g. both "generic" and "brand" would be prescribed for the same conditions)
What this means is that "generic" medications can be used as a substitute of their brand equivalents with the comparable therapeutic results. There are a few exceptions (examples are outlined at the end of this page) and as always you should consult your physician before switching from a brand name medications to a generic or vice versa.
What differences are there between generic and brand?
While generics and brand equivalent drugs contain the same active ingredients, they may be different in the following ways:
- Appearance (e.g. the scoring or markings)
The color, shape and size of the medication come from the fillers that are added to the active ingredients to make the drug. These fillers that are added to the drug have no medical use and do not to change the effectiveness of the final product. A generic drug must contain comparable active ingredients and must have a comparable strength and dosage as the original brand name equivalent. Generic drugs can be more cost effective than purchasing the brand name.
Why do generics cost less than the brand name equivalents?
When a new drug is "invented", the company that discovered it has a patent on it that gives them the exclusive production rights for this medication. Once the patent expires in a country, other companies can bring the product to market under their own name. This patent prevents other companies from copying the drug during that time so they can earn back their Research and Development costs through being the exclusive supplier of the product. After the patent expires however, other companies can develop a "generic" version of the product. These versions generally are offered at much lower prices because the companies do not have the same development costs as the original company who developed the medication.
The main thing to realize here though is that the two products are therapeutically equivalent. They may look different, and be called something different.
How are Generic drugs tested to ensure quality and efficacy?
Generally speaking, the two most generally accepted methods to prove the safety of a generic version of a drug are to either repeat most of the chemistry, animal and human studies originally done, or to show that the drug performs comparably with the original brand name drug. This second option is called a "comparative bioavailability" study. During this type of study, volunteers are given the original drug, and then separately later the generic drug. The rates at which the drug is delivered to the patient (into their blood stream or otherwise absorbed) are measured to ensure they are the same. Because the same active ingredient is used the major concern is just that it delivers the common chemical(s) at the same rate so that they have the same effect. Please note that the methods that the manufacturers use may vary from country to country.