The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your healthcare provider if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your healthcare provider, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your healthcare provider.

Medications may be given to treat hepatitis B or C. The drugs have limited success and may produce side effects. More than one drug may be advised. Not all patients are candidates for treatment with these medications. Discuss your treatment options with your healthcare provider.

Prescription Medications

Alpha interferons (Intron A and pegylated versions)

Telbivudine (Tyzeka)

Entecavir (Baraclude)

Lamivudine (Epivir-HBV)

Adefovir (Hepsera)

Ribavirin

Alpha Interferons (Intron A and pegylated versions)

Alpha interferon is injected, usually daily or three times per week. The pegylated versions are given weekly. It is used to treat hepatitis B and C. These medications may be given individually or in combination. You may receive treatment for about four months or longer, but time varies. Alcohol must not be consumed during treatment with interferon.

Possible side effects may include:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Personality changes
  • Depression
  • Flu-like symptoms such as:
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle aches
    • Headache
    • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bone marrow suppression
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis

Telbivudine (Tyzeka)

Telbivudine is available in liquid and tablet forms. It is appropriate for adolescents 16 years of age or older, and adults, with chronic Hepatitis B. It is usually taken once daily (optimal duration of therapy is unknown).

Possible side effects include:

  • Lactic acidosis, a serious change in blood chemistry
  • Acute exacerbations after treatment stops
  • Myopathy and myalgia (muscular weakness or pain) Neuropathy (impaired nerve function)
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain or distention
  • Nausea
  • Pharyngolaryngeal pain (pain while swallowing)
  • Arthralgia (joint pain)
  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Back pain
  • Dizziness
  • Dyspepsia
  • Insomnia
  • Increased creatine kinase (CK) (kidney)
  • ALT increase (liver)

Entecavir (Baraclude)

Entecavir is given orally or in tablet form to adults and adolescents older than 16 years of age to treat chronic Hepatitis B virus infection.

Possible side effects include:

  • Lactic acidosis, a serious change in blood chemistry
  • Acute exacerbations after treatment stops
  • Diarrhea
  • Dyspepsia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Insomnia

Lamivudine (Epivir-HBV)

Lamivudine is given orally to treat hepatitis B. It is usually taken daily for about one year (sometimes longer).

Possible side effects include:

  • Enlarged liver
  • Lactic acidosis, a serious change in blood chemistry
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Nasal congestion

Adefovir (Hepsera)

Adefovir is given orally to treat hepatitis B.

Possible side effects include:

  • Liver toxicity
  • Kidney toxicity
  • Lactic acidosis, a serious change in blood chemistry
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Ribavirin

Ribavirin is given orally to treat hepatitis C. The pills are taken twice daily.

Possible side effects include:

  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Skin rash and itching
  • Nasal congestion
  • Gouty arthritis

When to Contact Your Doctor

  • If you develop any side effects to the medications ordered.
  • If any of your symptoms worsen during treatment.

Special Considerations

Whenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions:

  • Take your medication as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.
  • Do not stop taking them without talking to your doctor.
  • Do not share them.
  • Know what the results and side effects may be. Report them to your doctor.
  • Some drugs can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one drug. This includes over-the-counter medication and herb or dietary supplements.
  • Plan ahead for refills so you don’t run out.