Treatment

How Do I Take These Medications?

Pegylated interferon

Pegylated interferon is a solution taken once a week as an injection under the skin.

Ribavirin

This is a pill taken twice a day by mouth.

Ribavarin can cause birth defects and must not be taken by pregnant women or the male partners of pregnant women.  You must take extreme care to avoid getting pregnant during treatment and for six months following treatment.  You and your partner should use two forms of birth control during this period.   For example, a man could use a condom and a woman could use a diaphragm or birth control pills.

However, if you are on triple therapy you cannot use any hormonal birth control because the new drugs (boceprevir and telaprevir) stop hormonal birth control from working.  These include:

  • Birth control pills
  • Uterine implants
  • Depo-Provera injections
  • Vaginal rings

In this case, you would need to use two non-hormonal forms of birth control, like a condom and diaphragm plus spermicidal jelly, during treatment and the six months following treatment.

HCV protease inhibitors (boceprevir and telaprevir)

Both of these are pills. One of these drugs would be taken every eight hours by mouth with food.  Boceprevir must be taken with a light snack.  Telaprevir must be taken with a high-fat food like peanut butter, ice cream or whole milk.

It is important to take all these medications exactly as prescribed.  That means taking the right dose of each of the drugs for the full duration that your doctor prescribes them. Missing doses, even just a few, can lead to your body developing a resistant virus that will no longer be treatable by your medications. If you experience serious side effects or complications from other health conditions, contact your doctor before stopping any of these medications.  Your doctor will determine if you need to stop treatment.

If you are being treated with PEG/riba therapy, it is possible to repeat treatment, if unsuccessful the first time.  However, if you are on triple therapy with either boceprevir or telaprevir and do not take these drugs for the recommended period of time at the correct dosage, you can become resistant to triple therapy or to similar new drugs that are being developed for future use.