Generic Name: interferon alfa-2b (IN ter FEAR on AL fa 2b)
Brand Name: Intron A
What is interferon alfa-2b?
Interferon alfa-2b is used to treat hairy cell leukemia, malignant melanoma, follicular lymphoma, Kaposi's sarcoma caused by AIDS, and certain types of genital warts. Interferon alfa-2b is also used to treat chronic hepatitis B or C in adults, and to treat chronic hepatitis B in children who are at least 1 year old.
Interferon alfa-2b may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
You should not use interferon alfa-2b if you have autoimmune hepatitis, or severe liver problems from causes other than hepatitis B or C.
Do not use interferon alfa-2b together with ribavirin if you are pregnant, or if you are a man and your sexual partner is pregnant. Prevent pregnancy while using this medicine, and for at least 6 months after you stop using it.
Interferon alfa-2b can cause life-threatening infections, autoimmune disorders, serious mood or behavior problems, or a stroke.
Call your doctor at once if you have: unusual changes in mood or behavior, chest pain, trouble breathing, sudden numbness or weakness, or signs of infection (fever, chills, cough with mucus, or burning when you urinate).
Before taking this medicine
You should not use interferon alfa-2b if you are allergic to it, or if you have:
autoimmune hepatitis, or severe liver problems from causes other than hepatitis B or C.
You should not use the combination of interferon alfa-2b and ribavirin if you have:
severe kidney disease;
if you are pregnant; or
if you are a man and your sexual partner is pregnant.
To make sure interferon alfa-2b is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had
cirrhosis or liver problems other than hepatitis;
depression, mental illness, thoughts about hurting yourself or someone else;
drug or alcohol addiction;
a blood clot in your lung;
a bleeding or blood clotting disorder;
diabetes, or a thyroid disorder;
a weak immune system, low blood cell counts;
colitis or other intestinal disorder;
kidney disease; or
an organ transplant.
Interferon alfa-2b can harm an unborn baby or cause a miscarriage. Do not use interferon alfa-2b with ribavirin (Rebetol) if you are pregnant. The combination of these medicines can cause birth defects. Use 2 forms of effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using this drug combination and for at least 6 months after your last dose.
If a man fathers a child while using interferon alfa-2b and ribavirin, the baby may have birth defects. Use a condom to prevent pregnancy during your treatment. Continue using condoms for at least 6 months after you stop using this drug combination.
Tell your doctor right away if a pregnancy occurs while either the mother or the father is using interferon alfa-2b and ribavirin.
It is not known whether interferon alfa-2b passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.
Interferon alfa-2b with ribavirin can affect growth in children. Talk with your doctor if you think your child is not growing at a normal rate while using this medicine.
The powder form of interferon alfa-2b is made from human plasma (part of the blood) which may contain viruses and other infectious agents. Donated plasma is tested and treated to reduce the risk of it containing infectious agents, but there is still a small possibility it could transmit disease. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of using this medication.
How is interferon alfa-2b given?
Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not use this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. If your doctor changes your brand, strength, or type of interferon, your dosage needs may change. Do not change your doses or medication schedule without your doctor's advice.
Interferon alfa-2b is given as an injection into a vein, into a muscle, under the skin, or directly into a genital wart. You may be shown how to use the medicine at home. Do not give yourself this medicine if you do not understand how to use the injection and properly dispose of needles, IV tubing, and other items used.
The powder form of interferon alfa-2b must be mixed with a liquid (diluent) before using it. If you are using the injections at home, be sure you understand how to properly mix and store the medicine. Do not use if the medicine has changed colors or has particles in it. Call your pharmacist for new medicine.
Use a disposable needle and syringe 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.
Interferon alfa-2b can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections and help your blood to clot. This can make it easier for you to bleed from an injury or get sick from being around others who are ill. Your blood may need to be tested often. Your heart, lung, and liver function may also need to be checked.
Store this medicine in the refrigerator. Do not freeze. After mixing the powder with a diluent, store this mixture in the refrigerator and use it within 24 hours.
Each single-use vial (bottle) of this medicine is for one use only. Throw it away after one use, even if there is still medicine left inside. Throw away any leftover medicine in a multi-dose vial 30 days after the first use.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Use the medicine as soon as you remember the missed dose, then go back to your regular schedule on the day your next dose is due. If several days pass after you miss a dose, call your doctor for instructions. Do not use extra medicine to make up a 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 alfa-2b?
Using this medicine will not prevent your disease from spreading. Follow your doctor's instructions about how to prevent passing the disease to another person.
Avoid drinking alcohol. It may increase your risk of liver damage.
This medicine may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert.
Interferon alfa-2b side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives, skin rash with blistering and peeling; anxiety, chest pain, difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
sudden chest pain or discomfort, wheezing, dry cough, feeling short of breath;
depression, irritability, confusion, thoughts about hurting yourself or others, or falling back into a previous pattern of drug addiction;
problems with your teeth;
severe stomach pain with bloody diarrhea;
heart attack symptoms--chest pain or pressure, pain spreading to your jaw or shoulder, nausea, sweating;
signs of a stroke--sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), sudden severe headache, slurred speech, problems with balance;
new or worsened autoimmune disorders--skin problems, joint pain or swelling, cold feeling or pale appearance in your fingers or toes;
signs of infection--fever, chills, body aches, cough with yellow or pink mucus, pain or burning when you urinate;
liver problems--stomach pain or swelling, loss of appetite, severe drowsiness, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or
pancreas problems--severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, vomiting.
Your cancer treatments may be delayed or permanently discontinued if you have certain side effects.
Common side effects may include:
flu-like symptoms, feeling tired;
nausea, loss of appetite, weight loss;
thinning hair; or
swelling, redness, or itching where an injection was given.
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)
What other drugs will affect interferon alfa-2b?
Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with interferon alfa-2b, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.
More about interferon alfa-2b
- Side Effects
- During Pregnancy
- Dosage Information
- Drug Interactions
- Support Group
- En Español
- 4 Reviews – Add your own review/rating
- Drug class: antineoplastic interferons
- Interferon Alfa-2b Injection Solution
- Interferon Alfa-2b Powder for Injection
- Interferon Alfa-2b Prefilled Pens
- Interferon alfa-2b Injection (Advanced Reading)
Other brands: Intron A
Related treatment guides
Where can I get more information?
- Your doctor or can provide more information about interferon alfa-2b.
- 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: 10.01.
Date modified: March 06, 2018
Last reviewed: July 31, 2017