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 doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, talk to your doctor.

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 people are candidates for treatment with these medications. Discuss your treatment options with your doctor.

Alpha interferon is injected, usually daily or three times per week. 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 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
  • Pain while swallowing
  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Back pain
  • Lightheadedness
  • Upset stomach
  • Insomnia
  • Changes in kidney and liver lab results

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
  • Stomach upset
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Lightheadedness
  • Insomnia

Lamivudine is given orally to treat hepatitis B. It is usually taken daily for about one year. In some cases, it may need to be taken longer.

Possible side effects include:

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

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 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
  • Gout

Common names include:

  • Telaprevir
  • Boceprevir
  • Simeprevir
  • Sofosburvir

Protease inhibitors are used to treat hepatitis C. They interfere with viral reproduction in the body, slowing the growth of hepatitis C. Protease inhibitors are taken in combination with other medications. It is important to remain adequately hydrated when taking them.

Possible side effects include:

  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Anemia
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Problems with or loss of taste
  • Anal irritation (telaprevir)
  • Sensitivity to light (simeprevir)
  • If you develop any side effects to the medications
  • If any of your symptoms worsen

If you are taking medications, follow these general guidelines:

  • 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.
  • Use a measuring spoon, cup, or syringe to give the right dose. Make sure it has the same measurements as the medication. For example, if the medication is given in milliliter (mL), the device should also say mL.
  • Know what the results and side effects. 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 do not run out.