Monoclonal Antibodies to Prevent Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Infection

Search Knowledgebase

Topic Contents

Monoclonal Antibodies to Prevent Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Infection


Generic NameBrand Name

How It Works

Palivizumab stops respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) from reproducing. This medicine contains antibodies that are made in a lab.

Why It Is Used

Palivizumab is used to prevent RSV infection. It is mainly used for children who have a high risk of developing complications, such as those with chronic lung disease or heart problems. If your baby was born early or has health problems, talk to your doctor about the need to prevent RSV.

If palivizumab does not prevent a child from becoming infected with RSV, it may make the illness less severe. This reduces the child's chance of having complications, such as bronchiolitis or pneumonia.

How Well It Works

Using palivizumab monthly during the RSV season lowers the chance of needing to go to the hospital (for RSV-related illnesses) by almost half, and it shortens the length of stay in the hospital by more than half.1

Palivizumab does not decrease how often children get other illnesses, such as ear infections.

Side Effects

Palivizumab may cause pain at the site where the medicine was given.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

If your baby or child has a high risk of a serious RSV infection, talk to your doctor about whether your child needs palivizumab.

Palivizumab is given as an injection in a doctor's office. During the RSV season (late fall to early spring), this shot is given once a month for up to 5 months. The number of doses depends on your child's risk factors.

Your child may need to take this medicine for most of the RSV season, regardless of whether he or she gets RSV infection. Different strains of RSV can circulate within a community during the same year, so treatment may still offer protection from infection.

Palivizumab does not interfere with the regular immunization schedule.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Horga MA, Moscona A (2006). Respiratory syncytial virus. In FD Burg et al., eds., Current Pediatric Therapy, 18th ed., pp. 793–797. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last Revised September 1, 2010

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.