Oral ribavirin, as Rebetol, was marketed in the U.S. until 2005 by Schering Plough with royalty payments for licensing made to Valeant Pharmaceuticals International.
It was also marketed as Copegas tablets by Roche Pharmaceuticals under a separate license to Valeant Pharmaceuticals International. After concluding patent disputes over generic ribavirin availability in 2003, Three Rivers Pharmaceuticals in conjunction with Par Pharmaceutical, was approved in 2005 to market ribavirin as Ribosphere capsules.
Generic ribavirin (200 mg, no brand name) became available in 2005 from Sandoz, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, and Warrick Pharmaceuticals, which is the generic arm of Schering Plough. These products are expected to displace the brand name products paying license fees to Valeant Pharmaceuticals International. The only present FDA-approved indication for these products is in conjunction with interferon against chronic hepatitis C with hepatic damage.
In Mexico, oral ribavirin has been available since the 1980s as an over-the-counter drug ("ribavirina," ICN pharmaceuticals Spanish tradename Vilona), for treating influenza. In this form it was occasionally brought into the U.S. for HIV/AIDS patients. However, ribavirin has proven to have little if any clinical usefulness against HIV, and it can greatly increase blood levels and also toxicity of the HIV antiviral didanosine (ddI, Videx).
Other interactions with nucleoside antivirals for HIV should be considered when HIV/AIDS patients use ribavirin to treat hepatitis C.
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