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Peginterferon Alfa-2b (Peg-Intron)

Generic Name: Peginterferon Alfa-2b (Peg-Intron) (peg in ter FEER on AL fa too bee)
Brand Name: PEG-Intron, Redipen

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jul 23, 2019.

Warning

  • Alpha interferons may cause mental health problems or make them worse. Suicide or suicidal thoughts, thoughts of hurting others, depression, forceful actions, hallucinations, and other mood or behavior problems have happened during treatment and within 6 months after the last dose. Relapse of drug addiction has also happened. Alpha interferons may also cause or make infections, blood flow problems, or autoimmune diseases worse. Sometimes, these may be deadly. If you think you have any of these health problems, call your doctor right away. Side effects such as high or low blood pressure, a fast or abnormal heartbeat, chest pain or pressure, trouble breathing, heart attacks, and strokes have happened. Closely read the part in this leaflet which lists when to call your doctor. Many times, but not every time, these side effects get better after stopping peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron).

Uses of Peginterferon Alfa-2b:

  • It is used to treat hepatitis C infection.
  • It may be given to you for other reasons. Talk with the doctor.

What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take Peginterferon Alfa-2b?

  • If you have an allergy to peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron) or any part of peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron).
  • If you are allergic to any drugs like this one, any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.
  • If you have autoimmune hepatitis.
  • If you have liver problems other than hepatitis C.

This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron).

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron) with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take Peginterferon Alfa-2b?

  • Tell all of your health care providers that you take peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron). This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • Very bad and sometimes deadly pancreas problems (pancreatitis) have happened with peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron). Call your doctor right away if you have very bad stomach pain, very bad back pain, or very upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Low blood cell counts have happened with peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron). If blood cell counts get very low, this can lead to bleeding problems, infections, or anemia. Call your doctor right away if you have signs of infection like fever, chills, or sore throat; any unexplained bruising or bleeding; or if you feel very tired or weak.
  • A very bad skin reaction (Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis) may happen. It can cause very bad health problems that may not go away, and sometimes death. Get medical help right away if you have signs like red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin (with or without fever); red or irritated eyes; or sores in your mouth, throat, nose, or eyes.
  • Very bad and sometimes deadly liver problems have happened with peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron). Call your doctor right away if you have signs of liver problems like dark urine, feeling tired, not hungry, upset stomach or stomach pain, light-colored stools, throwing up, or yellow skin or eyes.
  • This medicine may be used with ribavirin. If you are also taking ribavirin, talk with the doctor about the risks and side effects that may happen.
  • It is not known if peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron) will prevent liver failure or other liver problems like cancer. Talk with the doctor.
  • This medicine does not stop the spread of diseases like HIV or hepatitis that are passed through blood or having sex. Do not have any kind of sex without using a latex or polyurethane condom. Do not share needles or other things like toothbrushes or razors.
  • This medicine may affect growth in children and teens in some cases. They may need regular growth checks. Talk with the doctor.
  • If you are 65 or older, use peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron) with care. You could have more side effects.
  • This medicine may cause fertility problems. This may affect being able to have children. Talk with the doctor.
  • This medicine may cause harm to the unborn baby if you take it while you are pregnant.
  • If you are able to get pregnant, a pregnancy test will be done to show that you are NOT pregnant before starting peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron). Talk with your doctor.
  • Use birth control to prevent pregnancy during treatment with peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron). You may also need to use birth control for some time after your last dose. Talk with your doctor to see if you need to use birth control after you stop peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron).
  • If you get pregnant while taking peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron) or within 10 days after your last dose, call your doctor right away.
  • Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding. You will need to talk about any risks to your baby.

How is this medicine (Peginterferon Alfa-2b) best taken?

Use peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron) as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

  • It is given as a shot into the fatty part of the skin.
  • If you will be giving yourself the shot, your doctor or nurse will teach you how to give the shot.
  • Follow how to use as you have been told by the doctor or read the package insert.
  • Acetaminophen may be given to lower fever and chills.
  • Take at bedtime to help with flu-like signs.
  • Drink lots of noncaffeine liquids unless told to drink less liquid by your doctor.
  • Wash your hands before and after use.
  • This medicine must be mixed with sterile water before using. The sterile water that comes with peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron) is meant for one use only. Throw away any part of the sterile water that is not used after one use.
  • Do not shake.
  • Do not use if the solution is cloudy, leaking, or has particles.
  • Do not use if solution changes color.
  • Move the site where you give the shot with each shot.
  • Use right away after mixing or you may store in a refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  • Throw away any part of the opened vial not used after the shot is given.
  • Throw away after using. Do not use the device more than 1 time.
  • Throw away needles in a needle/sharp disposal box. Do not reuse needles or other items. When the box is full, follow all local rules for getting rid of it. Talk with a doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
  • Tell your doctor if you take a drug that has caffeine, or you eat or drink products that have caffeine, like tea, coffee, cola, or chocolate.
  • Take good care of your teeth. See a dentist often.
  • If you throw up, rinse your mouth out well.
  • Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
  • Talk with your doctor before you drink alcohol.
  • High blood sugar has happened with peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron). This includes diabetes that is new or worse. Talk with the doctor.
  • Check your blood sugar as you have been told by your doctor.
  • High triglyceride levels have happened with peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron). Tell your doctor if you have ever had high triglyceride levels.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Call your doctor to find out what to do.

What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Signs of thyroid problems like change in weight; feeling nervous, excitable, restless, or weak; hair thinning; depression; neck swelling; not able to focus; trouble with heat or cold; menstrual changes; shakiness; or sweating.
  • Signs of high blood sugar like confusion, feeling sleepy, more thirst, more hungry, passing urine more often, flushing, fast breathing, or breath that smells like fruit.
  • Weakness on 1 side of the body, trouble speaking or thinking, change in balance, drooping on one side of the face, or blurred eyesight.
  • Very bad dizziness or passing out.
  • Change in look of teeth or gums.
  • A burning, numbness, or tingling feeling that is not normal.
  • This medicine may cause eye problems that may lead to loss of eyesight or blindness. Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had eye problems. Call your doctor right away if you have any changes in eyesight.
  • Some people have had lung problems with peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron). Sometimes, this has been deadly. Call your doctor right away if you have signs of lung problems like shortness of breath or other trouble breathing, cough that is new or worse, or fever.
  • Severe bowel problems (colitis) have happened within 12 weeks of treatment with alpha interferons like peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron). Sometimes, this could be deadly. Call your doctor right away if you have severe stomach pain, bloody diarrhea, throwing up blood, or throw up that looks like coffee grounds.

What are some other side effects of Peginterferon Alfa-2b?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

  • Flu-like signs.
  • Upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Not hungry.
  • Hair loss.
  • Not able to sleep.
  • Feeling tired or weak.
  • Weight loss.
  • Change in taste.
  • Dizziness.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Irritation where the shot is given.
  • Muscle or joint pain.
  • Headache.
  • Flushing.

These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

How do I store and/or throw out Peginterferon Alfa-2b?

Vials:

  • Store at room temperature. Do not freeze.

Prefilled pen:

  • Store in a refrigerator. Do not freeze.

All products:

  • Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.

Consumer information use

  • If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
  • Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else's drugs.
  • Keep a list of all your drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your doctor.
  • Talk with the doctor before starting any new drug, including prescription or OTC, natural products, or vitamins.
  • This medicine comes with an extra patient fact sheet called a Medication Guide. Read it with care. Read it again each time peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron) is refilled. If you have any questions about peginterferon alfa-2b (peg-intron), please talk with the doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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