interferon alfacon-1

Generic Name: interferon alfacon-1 (IN ter FEER on AL fa kon 1)
Brand Name: Infergen

What is interferon alfacon-1?

Interferon alfacon-1 is made from human proteins that help the body fight viral infections.

Interferon alfacon-1 is used to treat chronic hepatitis C in adults. Interferon alfacon-1 is often used in combination with another medicine called ribavirin (Copegus, Rebetol, Ribasphere).

Interferon alfacon-1 may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about interferon alfacon-1?

Interferon alfacon-1 is often used together with another medicine called ribavirin (Copegus, Rebetol, Ribasphere), which is known to cause birth defects or death in an unborn baby. Do not use interferon alfacon-1 and ribavirin if you are pregnant, or if you are a man and your female sexual partner is pregnant.

You should not use interferon alfacon-1 if you have liver failure or autoimmune hepatitis. You should not use interferon alfacon-1 with ribavirin if you have a hemoglobin blood cell disorder or severe kidney disease.

Slideshow: Flashback: FDA Drug Approvals 2013

Before using interferon alfacon-1, tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions.

Interferon alfacon-1 can cause infections, serious mood or behavior problems, or new or worsened symptoms of an autoimmune disorder (such as psoriasis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis).

Stop using interferon alfacon-1 and call your doctor at once if you have severe or worsening symptoms such as: depression, anxiety, aggression, irritability, thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself; sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), slurred speech, problems with vision or balance; fever, chills, cough with mucus, painful or difficult urination, or bloody diarrhea.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using interferon alfacon-1?

You should not use this medicine if you are allergic to interferon alfacon-1 or other alfa interferons (Intron A, Alferon N, PegIntron, Pegasys, Sylatron), or if you have:

  • liver failure; or

  • autoimmune hepatitis.

You should not use interferon alfacon-1 with ribavirin if you have:

  • severe kidney disease;

  • a hemoglobin blood cell disorder such as sickle-cell anemia or thalassemia;

  • if you are pregnant; or

  • if you are a man whose sexual partner is pregnant.

Interferon alfacon-1 can cause infections, serious mood or behavior problems, or new or worsened symptoms of an autoimmune disorder. Tell your doctor about all your medical conditions, especially:

  • diabetes, or a thyroid disorder;

  • weak immune system (caused by disease such as HIV or AIDS);

  • an autoimmune disorder such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or psoriasis;

  • heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or triglycerides, or a history of heart attack, or stroke;

  • history of depression, anxiety, mental illness, suicidal thoughts, or drug or alcohol addiction.

To make sure interferon alfacon-1 is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • any type of infection;

  • hepatitis B or liver problems other than hepatitis C;

  • lung disease;

  • kidney disease;

  • new or worsening problems with your eyes;

  • cancer;

  • pancreatitis or ulcerative colitis;

  • history of organ transplant;

  • a history of low blood cell counts; or

  • any blood cell disorder causing bleeding episodes, infections, or fever-related illness.

FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether interferon alfacon-1 will harm an unborn baby. However, this medicine is often used together with another medicine called ribavirin. Ribavirin is known to cause birth defects or death in an unborn baby. You may need to have a negative pregnancy test before taking these two medicines together and every month during your treatment.

  • If you are a woman, do not use interferon alfacon-1 and ribavirin if you are pregnant.

  • If you are a man, do not use interferon alfacon-1 and ribavirin if your female sexual partner is pregnant. An unborn baby could also be harmed if a man fathers the child while he is taking ribavirin.

  • Use at least 2 effective forms of birth control while either sexual partner is using interferon alfacon-1 with ribavirin. Keep using 2 forms of birth control for at least 6 months after treatment ends.

  • Tell your doctor right away if a pregnancy occurs while either the mother or the father is using interferon alfacon-1 together with ribavirin.

It is not known whether interferon alfacon-1 passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using interferon alfacon-1 with ribavirin.

How should I use interferon alfacon-1?

Interferon alfacon-1 is injected under the skin. You may be shown how to use injections at home. Do not self-inject this medicine if you do not fully understand how to give the injection and properly dispose of used needles and syringes.

Interferon alfacon-1 when given alone is usually injected 3 times each week. When used together with ribavirin, interferon alfacon-1 injections are usually given daily. If you are being treated with combination therapy, you will also take ribavirin by mouth every day. Ribavirin should be taken with food.

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not use this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Interferon alfacon-1 comes with patient instructions for safe and effective use. Follow these directions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

Do not shake the medicine bottle or you may ruin the medicine. Prepare your dose only when you are ready to give an injection. Do not use if the medicine has changed colors or has particles in it. Call your pharmacist for new medicine.

Each single-use vial (bottle) of this medicine is for one use only. Throw away after one use, even if there is still some medicine left in it after injecting your dose.

Use a disposable needle only once. Follow any state or local laws about throwing away used needles and syringes. Use a puncture-proof "sharps" disposal container (ask your pharmacist where to get one and how to throw it away). Keep this container out of the reach of children and pets.

You may need regular medical tests to be sure this medicine is not causing harmful effects. You may also need regular eye exams.

Store in the refrigerator, do not freeze. Protect from light. Throw away the medicine if it has become frozen. Throw away any interferon alfacon-1 not used before the expiration date on the medicine label.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Use the missed dose as soon as you remember, and then call your doctor for instructions. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while using interferon alfacon-1?

Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

Interferon alfacon-1 side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives, sores in your mouth, blistering and peeling skin; anxiety, chest pain, difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using interferon alfacon-1 and call your doctor at once if you have severe or worsening symptoms such as: depression, anxiety, aggression, irritability, thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself; sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), slurred speech, problems with vision or balance; fever, chills, cough with mucus, painful or difficult urination, or bloody diarrhea.

Stop using interferon alfacon-1 and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • vision problems;

  • confusion, severe drowsiness;

  • bloody diarrhea;

  • cough with mucus, feeling short of breath, chest pain;

  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms, pale skin, unusual weakness;

  • easy bruising or bleeding (nosebleeds, bleeding gums);

  • severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting;

  • numbness, tingling, or burning pain in your hands or feet;

  • new or worsening liver symptoms--upper stomach pain, tired feeling, loss of appetite, dark urine, yellowing of the skin or eyes;

  • signs of a thyroid problem--feeling hot or cold, weight changes, skin changes, trouble concentrating; or

  • high blood sugar--increased thirst, increased urination, hunger, dry mouth, fruity breath odor, drowsiness, dry skin, blurred vision, weight loss.

Common side effects may include:

  • headache;

  • muscle pain;

  • mild stomach pain or nausea, diarrhea; or

  • weight loss or thinning hair.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

Interferon alfacon-1 Dosing Information

Usual Adult Dose for Chronic Hepatitis C:

Monotherapy:
For initial treatment: 9 mcg subcutaneously 3 times a week for 24 weeks

For patients who tolerated previous interferon therapy and did not respond or relapsed after its discontinuation: 15 mcg subcutaneously 3 times a week for up to 48 weeks

Patients who did not tolerate initial standard interferon therapy should not be treated with interferon alfacon-1 15 mcg 3 times a week.

Combination therapy:
Less than 75 kg: Interferon alfacon-1 15 mcg subcutaneously once a day plus ribavirin 1000 mg/day orally in 2 divided doses for up to 48 weeks

75 kg or more: Interferon alfacon-1 15 mcg subcutaneously once a day plus ribavirin 1200 mg/day orally in 2 divided doses for up to 48 weeks

What other drugs will affect interferon alfacon-1?

Other drugs may interact with interferon alfacon-1, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about interferon alfacon-1.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 8.01. Revision Date: 2014-02-07, 7:26:36 PM.

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