Currently Enrolling Trials
Rebetol (ribavirin) is a nucleoside analogue.
Rebetol is indicated in combination with interferon alfa-2b (pegylated and nonpegylated) for the treatment of Chronic Hepatitis C (CHC) in patients 3 years of age or older with compensated liver disease.
Rebetol is supplied as capsules and an oral solution.
Do not open, crush or break Rebetol capsules. Rebetol should be taken with food.
Rebetol /PegIntron Combination Therapy
The recommended dose of Rebetol when used in combination with PegIntron is 800 mg to 1,400 mg based on patient body weight in two divided doses. Refer to PegIntron labeling for PegIntron dosing information.
Duration of Treatment – Interferon Alpha-naïve Patients
The treatment duration for patients with genotype 1 is 48 weeks. Discontinuation of therapy should be considered in patients who do not achieve at least a 2 log10 drop or loss of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-RNA at 12 weeks, or if HCV-RNA remains detectable after 24 weeks of therapy. Patients with genotype 2 and 3 should be treated for 24 weeks.
Duration of Treatment – Re-treatment with PegIntron/Rebetol of Prior Treatment Failures
The treatment duration for patients who previously failed therapy is 48 weeks, regardless of HCV genotype. Re-treated patients who fail to achieve undetectable HCV-RNA at Week 12 of therapy, or whose HCV-RNA remains detectable after 24 weeks of therapy, are highly unlikely to achieve SVR and discontinuation of therapy should be considered
Dosing of Rebetol in pediatric patients is determined by body weight. The recommended dose of Rebetol when used in combination with PegIntron in pediatric patients ages 3-17 years is 15 mg/kg/day in two divided doses. Refer to PegIntron labeling for PegIntron dosing information. The treatment duration for patients with genotype 1 is 48 weeks. Patients with genotype 2 and 3 should be treated for 24 weeks.
Mechanism of Action
Rebetol is an oral formulation of ribavirin, a synthetic nucleoside analog with antiviral activity. Intron A is a recombinant version of naturally occurring alpha interferon. The mechanism of inhibition of hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA by combination therapy with Rebetol and Intron A has not been established.
Side effects associated with Rebetol include (but are not limited to) the following:
The Rebetol drug label comes with the following Black Box Warning: Significant teratogenic and embryocidal effects have been demonstrated in all animal species exposed to ribavirin. In addition, ribavirin has a multiple-dose half-life of 12 days and may persist in non-plasma compartments for as long as 6 months. Therefore, Rebetol therapy is contraindicated in women who are pregnant and in the male partners of women who are pregnant. Avoid pregnancy during therapy and for 6 months after completion of treatment in both female patients and in female partners of male patients who are taking Rebetol therapy. Effective contraception must be utilized during treatment and during the 6-month post-treatment follow-up period. Hemolytic anemia has been reported with ribavirin therapy. The anemia associated with Rebetol therapy may result in worsening of cardiac disease that has led to fatal and nonfatal myocardial infarctions. Patients with a history of significant or unstable cardiac disease should not be treated with Rebetol. Rebetol monotherapy is not effective for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus infection and should not be used alone for this indication.
Clinical Trial Results
A randomized trial compared treatment with two PegIntron/REBETOL regimens [PegIntron 1.5 mcg/kg subcutaneously once weekly/REBETOL 800 mg orally daily (in divided doses); PegIntron 1.5 mcg/kg subcutaneously once weekly for 4 weeks then 0.5 mcg/kg subcutaneously once weekly for 44 weeks/REBETOL 1000 or 1200 mg orally daily (in divided doses)] with INTRON A [3 MIU subcutaneously three times weekly/REBETOL 1000 or 1200 mg orally daily (in divided doses)] in 1,530 adults with chronic hepatitis C. Interferon-naïve subjects were treated for 48 weeks and followed for 24 weeks post-treatment. Eligible subjects had compensated liver disease, detectable HCV-RNA, elevated ALT, and liver histopathology consistent with chronic hepatitis. Response to treatment was defined as undetectable HCV-RNA at 24 weeks post-treatment. The response rate to the PegIntron 1.5 mcg/kg and ribavirin 800 mg dose was higher than the response rate to INTRON A/REBETOL. The response rate to PegIntron 1.5 0.5 mcg/kg/REBETOL was essentially the same as the response to INTRON A/REBETOL.
In a large United States community-based trial, 4,913 subjects with chronic hepatitis C were randomized to receive PegIntron 1.5 mcg/kg subcutaneously once weekly in combination with a REBETOL dose of 800 to 1400 mg (weight-based dosing [WBD]) or 800 mg (flat) orally daily (in divided doses) for 24 or 48 weeks based on genotype. Response to treatment was defined as undetectable HCV-RNA (based on an assay with a lower limit of detection of 125 IU/mL) at 24 weeks post-treatment. Treatment with PegIntron 1.5 mcg/kg and REBETOL 800 to 1400 mg resulted in a higher sustained virologic response compared to PegIntron in combination with a flat 800 mg daily dose of REBETOL. Subjects weighing greater than 105 kg obtained the greatest benefit with WBD, although a modest benefit was also observed in subjects weighing greater than 85 to 105 kg. The benefit of WBD in subjects weighing greater than 85 kg was observed with HCV genotypes 1-3. Insufficient data were available to reach conclusions regarding other genotypes. Use of WBD resulted in an increased incidence of anemia.
A large randomized trial compared the safety and efficacy of treatment for 48 weeks with two PegIntron/REBETOL regimens [PegIntron 1.5 mcg/kg and 1 mcg/kg subcutaneously once weekly both in combination with REBETOL 800 to 1400 mg PO daily (in two divided doses)] and Pegasys 180 mcg subcutaneously once weekly in combination with Copegus 1000 to 1200 mg PO daily (in two divided doses) in 3,070 treatment-naïve adults with chronic hepatitis C genotype 1. In this trial, lack of early virologic response (undetectable HCV-RNA or greater than or equal to 2 log10 reduction from baseline) by treatment Week 12 was the criterion for discontinuation of treatment. SVR was defined as undetectable HCV-RNA (Roche COBAS TaqMan assay, a lower limit of quantitation of 27 IU/mL) at 24 weeks post-treatment. Overall SVR rates were similar among the three treatment groups. Regardless of treatment group, SVR rates were lower in subjects with poor prognostic factors. Subjects with poor prognostic factors randomized to PegIntron (1.5 mcg/kg)/REBETOL or Pegasys/Copegus, however, achieved higher SVR rates compared to similar subjects randomized to PegIntron 1 mcg/kg/REBETOL. For the PegIntron 1.5 mcg/kg and REBETOL dose, SVR rates for subjects with and without the following prognostic factors were as follows: cirrhosis (10% vs. 42%), normal ALT levels (32% vs. 42%), baseline viral load greater than 600,000 IU/mL (35% vs. 61%), 40 years of age and older (38% vs. 50%), and African American race (23% vs. 44%). In subjects with undetectable HCV-RNA at treatment Week 12 who received PegIntron (1.5 mcg/kg)/REBETOL, the SVR rate was 81% (328/407).