High-dose, short-duration ribavirin aerosol therapy in children with suspected respiratory syncytial virus infection

J Pediatr. 1990 Aug;117(2 Pt 1):313-20. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(05)80554-2.


Nine children (aged 6 weeks to 7 years) with suspected respiratory syncytial virus infection received aerosal treatment with ribavirin, 60 mg/ml for 2-hour periods three times daily for up to 5 days. Five children received treatment via an endotracheal tube and four via an oxygen hood. Blood samples (3 to 17 per patient) and respiratory secretions (4 to 23 per patient) were assayed for ribavirin with reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography. Ribavirin triphosphate in erythrocytes was determined by ion-exchange high-performance liquid chromatography. The mean (+/- SD) peak ribavirin level after the first dose was 1725 +/- 2179 mumol/L in secretions and 3.8 +/- 2.6 mumol/L in plasma. Ribavirin in the secretions was rapidly cleared, with a mean (+/- SD), half-life of 1.9 +/- 0.8 hours. Plasma ribavirin increased with treatments to reach a steady state of 5 to 10 mumol/L. Mean peak ribavirin triphosphate levels were 15- to 300-fold higher than plasma ribavirin levels by the end of therapy. More than 98% reduction of viral load without the emergence of resistant virus was noted on day 3 of therapy. High-dose treatment was compatible with the aerosol equipment routinely used (small-particle aerosol generator, model 2-6000) for ribavirin administration and with ventilators. High-dose, short-duration ribavirin therapy was well tolerated by all patients, permitted easier accessibility for patient care, and may result in less environmental exposure of health care workers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Aerosols
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Intubation, Intratracheal
  • Respiratory Syncytial Viruses / isolation & purification
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / etiology
  • Respirovirus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Ribavirin / administration & dosage*
  • Ribavirin / pharmacokinetics
  • Ribavirin / therapeutic use
  • Ribonucleosides / administration & dosage*
  • Time Factors


  • Aerosols
  • Ribonucleosides
  • Ribavirin