Peginterferon Alfa-2a (peg-in-ter-FEER-on AL-fa-2a)
Treats hepatitis C. May be used alone or in combination with another medicine (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. Do not give this medicine to a newborn or young baby. You should not use this medicine if you have certain other liver problems, such as autoimmune hepatitis or cirrhosis that is getting worse. 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. If you are using peginterferon alfa-2a with ribavirin, you will need to also follow the instructions for ribavirin.
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.
- This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. Ask your pharmacist for the Medication Guide if you do not have one. Your doctor might ask you to sign some forms to show that you understand this information.
- 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.
- Your dose of medicine might need to be changed sometimes. Make sure you understand how much medicine to use if the amount changes. Do not change your dose unless your doctor tells you to.
- 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 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.
- Use only the brand of this medicine that your doctor prescribed. Different brands may not work the same way.
- If you switch between using the vials and using the prefilled syringes, double-check that you are giving yourself the correct dose of 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, pharmacist, treatment clinic, or home health caregiver 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®, 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 drug or alcohol problems. Tell your doctor about any mental or emotional problems (such as depression or anxiety), or a history of any of these problems.
- You might have mood or behavior changes, such as feeling sad or hopeless, or getting upset easily. You might 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 behavior.
- This medicine could make some health problems get worse. Also, some health problems might interfere with this medicine. Make sure your doctor knows if you have any of these health problems: HIV or AIDS, heart disease, high blood pressure, heart rhythm problems, thyroid problems, diabetes, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), eye problems, kidney disease, bleeding problems, trouble breathing, lung disease (such as sarcoidosis or interstitial pneumonitis), or immune system problems or an autoimmune disorder (such as psoriasis, lupus, or arthritis). Tell your doctor if you are on kidney dialysis, or if you have ever had an organ transplant.
- Your doctor will need to check your progress at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments. You may also need to have your eyes checked regularly while you are receiving 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.
- 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, uneven heartbeat.
- Depressed mood, thoughts of hurting yourself or others.
- Fever that does not go away or gets higher.
- Fever with chills, cough, sore throat, or body aches.
- Joint pain or stiffness.
- Stomach pain, bloody diarrhea, fever.
- Sudden and severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, and lightheadedness.
- Trouble breathing.
- Trouble seeing or change in your vision.
- 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, tiredness).
- Mild nausea, diarrhea, or loss of appetite.
- Redness, pain, or itching where the shot was given.
- Skin itching.