Peginterferon Alfa-2a (peg-in-ter-FEER-on AL-fa-2a)
Treats hepatitis B and C. May be used alone or in combination with another medicine (such as ribavirin, Copegus®, Rebetol®).
There may be other brand names for this medicine.
When This Medicine Should Not Be Used
You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to peginterferon alfa-2a. You should not use this medicine if you have certain other liver problems that are getting worse (such as autoimmune hepatitis or cirrhosis). Do not use this medicine with ribavirin (Copegus®, Rebetol®) if you are pregnant, if your female sexual partner is pregnant, or if you have a blood disorder (such as sickle-cell anemia or thalassemia major).
How to Use This Medicine
- Your doctor will prescribe your exact dose and tell you how often it should be given. This medicine is given as a shot under your skin.
- A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine.
- You may be taught how to give your medicine at home. Make sure you understand all instructions before giving yourself an injection. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
- This medicine comes with patient instructions. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
- Use this medicine on the same day each week, and at about the same time of the day.
- If you switch from using the vials to using the prefilled syringes, double-check that you are giving yourself the correct amount of medicine.
- You might not use all of the medicine in each vial (glass container) or prefilled syringe. Use each vial or syringe only one time. Do not save an open vial or syringe. If the medicine in the vial or syringe has changed color, or if you see particles in it, do not use it.
- You will be shown the body areas where this shot can be given. Use a different body area each time you give yourself a shot. Keep track of where you give each shot to make sure you rotate body areas.
- Use a new needle and syringe each time you inject your medicine.
If a dose is missed:
- If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine and you are 1 or 2 days late, use it as soon as you can. If it has been more than 2 days since you were supposed to use the medicine, call your doctor for instructions.
- Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.
How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine
- If you store this medicine at home, keep it in the refrigerator. Do not freeze.
- Throw away used needles in a hard, closed container that the needles cannot poke through. Keep this container away from children and pets.
- Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any leftover medicine, containers, and other supplies. You will also need to throw away old medicine after the expiration date has passed.
- Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.
Drugs and Foods to Avoid
Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.
- Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using medicine to treat HIV or AIDS (such as abacavir, didanosine, lamivudine, stavudine, zidovudine, Combivir®, Epivir®, Trizivir®, Videx®, Zerit®, or Ziagen®).
- Tell your doctor if you are also using theophylline (Slo-Bid®, Theo-Dur®) or methadone (Dolophine®).
Warnings While Using This Medicine
- Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have kidney disease, liver disease, bleeding problems, bone marrow disease (such as aplastic anemia), breathing problems, lung disease, heart disease, a history of a heart attack or stroke, high blood pressure, or heart rhythm problems. Tell your doctor if you have thyroid problems, diabetes, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), diabetic retinopathy, eye or vision problems, pancreas disease, immune system problems, or an autoimmune disorder (such as psoriasis, lupus, or arthritis).
- Make sure your doctor knows if you have a history of depression, bipolar disorder, HIV or AIDS, or an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Also, tell your doctor if you have ever had an organ transplant.
- You might have mood or behavior changes with this medicine, such as feeling sad or hopeless, or getting upset easily. You could feel nervous or hostile. Some people become violent and want to hurt themselves or others. You might have too much energy, or see or hear unusual things. Call your doctor right away if you have any strange feelings, thoughts, or behaviors.
- Serious allergic reactions can occur with this medicine. Check with your doctor right away if you have blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin; fever or chills; hives or welts; red skin lesions; a severe skin rash or acne; or sores or ulcers on the skin while you are using this medicine.
- This medicine will not keep you from giving hepatitis B or hepatitis C to other people.
- This medicine lowers the number of some types of blood cells in your body. Because of this, you may bleed or get infections more easily. To help with these problems, avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Wash your hands often. Stay away from rough sports or other situations where you could be bruised, cut, or injured. Brush and floss your teeth gently. Be careful when using sharp objects, including razors and fingernail clippers.
- Check with your doctor right away if blurred vision, difficulty with reading, or any other change in vision occurs during or after treatment. Your doctor may want you to have your eyes checked by an eye doctor.
- If you have severe diarrhea, ask your doctor before taking any medicine to stop the diarrhea.
- Your doctor will need to check your blood at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.
- If your symptoms do not improve or if they get worse, call your doctor.
- This medicine may make you dizzy or drowsy. Avoid driving, using machines, or doing anything else that could be dangerous if you are not alert.
Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine
Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:
- Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing.
- Chest pain or uneven heartbeat.
- Depressed mood, thoughts of hurting yourself or others.
- Fever that does not go away or gets higher.
- Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, or body aches.
- Joint pain or stiffness.
- Stomach pain or bloody diarrhea.
- Sudden and severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and lightheadedness.
- Trouble seeing or change in your vision.
- Trouble with breathing.
- Unexplained weight loss or gain.
- Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness.
If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:
- Hair loss.
- Mild "flu" symptoms, such as muscle aches and pains, low fever, or tiredness.
- Mild nausea, diarrhea, or loss of appetite.
- Redness, pain, or itching where the shot was given.
- Skin itching.
If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088
Review Date: 2011-02-04