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interferon gamma (Subcutaneous route, Injection route)

in-ter-FEER-on GAM-ma

Commonly used brand name(s)

In the U.S.

  • Actimmune

Available Dosage Forms:

  • Solution

Therapeutic Class: Immunological Agent

Pharmacologic Class: Interferon, Gamma (class)

Uses For interferon gamma

Gamma interferon is a synthetic (man-made) version of a substance naturally produced by cells in the body to help fight infections and tumors. Gamma interferon is used to treat chronic granulomatous disease and osteopetrosis.

Gamma interferon is available only with your doctor's prescription.

Before Using interferon gamma

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For interferon gamma, the following should be considered:


Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to interferon gamma or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.


Studies on interferon gamma have been done mostly in children and it is not expected to cause different side effects or problems than it does in adults.


Many medicines have not been studied specifically in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults or if they cause different side effects or problems in older people. There is no specific information comparing use of gamma interferon in the elderly with use in other age groups.


Pregnancy Category Explanation
All Trimesters C Animal studies have shown an adverse effect and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women OR no animal studies have been conducted and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women.

Breast Feeding

There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.

Interactions with Medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking interferon gamma, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using interferon gamma with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.

  • Rotavirus Vaccine, Live

Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other Medical Problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of interferon gamma. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Convulsions (seizures) or
  • Mental problems (or history of)—Risk of problems affecting the central nervous system may be increased
  • Heart disease or
  • Multiple sclerosis or
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus—May be worsened by gamma interferon

Proper Use of interferon gamma

If you are injecting interferon gamma yourself, use it exactly as directed by your doctor. Do not use more or less of it, and do not use it more often than your doctor ordered. The exact amount of medicine you need has been carefully worked out. Using too much will increase the risk of side effects, while using too little may not improve your condition.

Each package of gamma interferon contains a patient instruction sheet. Read this sheet carefully and make sure you understand:

  • How to prepare the injection.
  • Proper use of disposable syringes.
  • How to give the injection.
  • How long the injection is stable.

If you have any questions about any of this, check with your health care professional.

While you are using gamma interferon, your doctor may want you to drink extra fluids. This will help prevent low blood pressure due to loss of too much water.

Gamma interferon often causes flu-like symptoms, which can be severe. This effect is less likely to cause problems if you inject your gamma interferon at bedtime.


The dose of interferon gamma will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of interferon gamma. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of interferon gamma, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.

Call your doctor or pharmacist for instructions.


Store in the refrigerator. Do not freeze.

Keep out of the reach of children.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Discard any unopened vials that are left at room temperature for more than 12 hours.

Precautions While Using interferon gamma

It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that interferon gamma is working properly and to check for unwanted effects.

interferon gamma commonly causes a flu-like reaction, with aching muscles, fever and chills, and headache. To prevent problems from your temperature going too high, your doctor may ask you to take acetaminophen before each dose of gamma interferon. You may also need to take it after a dose to bring your temperature down. Follow your doctor's instructions carefully about taking your temperature, and how much and when to take the acetaminophen.

interferon gamma Side Effects

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • Black, tarry stools
  • blood in urine or stools
  • confusion
  • cough or hoarseness
  • loss of balance control
  • lower back or side pain
  • mask-like face
  • painful or difficult urination
  • pinpoint red spots on skin
  • shuffling walk
  • stiffness of arms or legs
  • trembling and shaking of hands and fingers
  • trouble in speaking or swallowing
  • trouble in thinking or concentrating
  • trouble in walking
  • unusual bleeding or bruising

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common
  • Aching muscles
  • diarrhea
  • fever and chills
  • general feeling of discomfort or illness
  • headache
  • nausea or vomiting
  • skin rash
  • unusual tiredness
Less common
  • Back pain
  • dizziness
  • joint pain
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

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