Low-dose ribavirin potentiates the antiviral activity of favipiravir against hemorrhagic fever viruses

Jonna B Westover, Eric J Sefing, Kevin W Bailey, Arnaud J Van Wettere, Kie-Hoon Jung, Ashley Dagley, Luci Wandersee, Brittney Downs, Donald F Smee, Yousuke Furuta, Mike Bray, Brian B Gowen
Antiviral Research 2016, 126: 62-8
Favipiravir is approved in Japan to treat novel or re-emerging influenza viruses, and is active against a broad spectrum of RNA viruses, including Ebola. Ribavirin is the only other licensed drug with activity against multiple RNA viruses. Recent studies show that ribavirin and favipiravir act synergistically to inhibit bunyavirus infections in cultured cells and laboratory mice, likely due to their different mechanisms of action. Convalescent immune globulin is the only approved treatment for Argentine hemorrhagic fever caused by the rodent-borne Junin arenavirus. We previously reported that favipiravir is highly effective in a number of small animal models of Argentine hemorrhagic fever. We now report that addition of low dose of ribavirin synergistically potentiates the activity of favipiravir against Junin virus infection of guinea pigs and another arenavirus, Pichinde virus infection of hamsters. This suggests that the efficacy of favipiravir against hemorrhagic fever viruses can be further enhanced through the addition of low-dose ribavirin.

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