Peg-Intron - Peginterferon Alfa-2b Injection (Hepatitis)
What is this medication?
PEGINTERFERON ALFA-2b (peg in ter FEER on AL fa 2 b) treats infections caused by the hepatitis C virus. It works by limiting the spread of the virus inside the body. This medication does not kill the virus and it may still be possible to spread the virus to others. It will not treat colds, the flu, or infections caused by bacteria.
This medicine may be used for other purposes; ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.
COMMON BRAND NAME(S): PegIntron, PegIntron Redipen, PegIntron Redipen Pak
What should I tell my care team before I take this medication?
They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
- Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis
- Bleeding disorder
- Heart attack
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- HIV or AIDs
- Kidney disease
- Mental health conditions
- Organ transplant
- Other liver disease
- Substance use disorder
- Suicidal thoughts, plans, or attempt
- Stomach or intestine problems, such as colitis
- Thyroid disease
- An unusual or allergic reaction to peginterferon, other medications, foods, dyes, or preservatives
- Pregnant or trying to get pregnant
How should I use this medication?
This medication is injected under the skin. You will be taught how to prepare and give it. Take it as directed on the prescription label. Keep taking it unless your care team tells you to stop.
It is important that you put your used needles and syringes in a special sharps container. Do not put them in a trash can. If you do not have a sharps container, call your pharmacist or care team to get one.
A special MedGuide will be given to you by the pharmacist with each prescription and refill. Be sure to read this information carefully each time.
Talk to your care team about the use of this medication in children. While this medication may be prescribed for children as young as 3 years for selected conditions, precautions do apply.
Overdosage: If you think you have taken too much of this medicine contact a poison control center or emergency room at once.
NOTE: This medicine is only for you. Do not share this medicine with others.
What if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If several days have passed since you missed your dose, ask your care team what to do. Do not take more than one dose in a week unless your care team tells you to. Do not take double or extra doses.
What may interact with this medication?
Do not take this medication with any of the following:
- Live virus vaccines
This medication may also interact with the following:
- Antiviral medications for HIV or AIDS
This list may not describe all possible interactions. Give your health care provider a list of all the medicines, herbs, non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements you use. Also tell them if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. Some items may interact with your medicine.
What should I watch for while using this medication?
Visit your care team for regular checks on your progress. You may need blood work while taking this medication.
Watch for new or worsening thoughts of suicide or depression. This includes sudden changes in mood, behaviors, or thoughts. These changes can happen at any time but are more common in the beginning of treatment or after a change in dose. Call your care team right away if you experience these thoughts or worsening depression.
This medication may increase your risk of getting an infection. Call your care team for advice if you get a fever, chills, sore throat, or other symptoms of a cold or flu. Do not treat yourself. Try to avoid being around people who are sick.
This medication may increase your risk to bruise or bleed. Call your care team if you notice any unusual bleeding.
Be careful brushing or flossing your teeth or using a toothpick because you may get an infection or bleed more easily. If you have any dental work done, tell your dentist you are receiving this medication.
This medication may increase blood sugar. The risk may be higher in patients who already have diabetes. Ask your care team what you can do to lower your risk of diabetes while taking this medication.
Talk to your care team if you or your partner wish to become pregnant or think either of you might be pregnant. This medication can cause serious birth defects if taken during pregnancy or for 10 days after the last dose. A negative pregnancy test is required before staring this medication. A reliable form of contraception is recommended while taking this medication and for 10 days after the last dose. Talk to your care team about effective forms of contraception.
Talk to your care team before breastfeeding. Changes to your treatment plan may be needed.
This medication may cause infertility. It is usually temporary. Talk to your care team if you are concerned about your fertility.
What side effects may I notice from receiving this medication?
Side effects that you should report to your care team as soon as possible:
- Allergic reactions—skin rash, itching, hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
- Dry cough, shortness of breath or trouble breathing
- Eye pain, change in vision, vision loss
- Heart attack—pain or tightness in the chest, shoulders, arms, or jaw, nausea, shortness of breath, cold or clammy skin, feeling faint or lightheaded
- Heart rhythm changes—fast or irregular heartbeat, dizziness, feeling faint or lightheaded, chest pain, trouble breathing
- High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)—increased thirst or amount of urine, unusual weakness or fatigue, blurry vision
- High thyroid levels (hyperthyroidism)—fast or irregular heartbeat, weight loss, excessive sweating or sensitivity to heat, tremors or shaking, anxiety, nervousness, irregular menstrual cycle or spotting
- Infection—fever, chills, cough, or sore throat
- Liver injury—right upper belly pain, loss of appetite, nausea, light-colored stool, dark yellow or brown urine, yellowing skin or eyes, unusual weakness or fatigue
- Low blood pressure—dizziness, feeling faint or lightheaded, blurry vision
- Low thyroid levels (hypothyroidism)—unusual weakness or fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, hair loss, dry skin, weight gain, feelings of depression
- Lupus-like syndrome—joint pain, swelling, or stiffness, butterfly-shaped rash on the face, rashes that get worse in the sun, fever, unusual weakness or fatigue
- Mood and behavior changes—anxiety, nervousness, confusion, hallucinations, irritability, hostility, thoughts of suicide or self-harm, worsening mood, feelings of depression
- Pain, tingling, or numbness in the hands or feet
- Pancreatitis—severe stomach pain that spreads to your back or gets worse after eating or when touched, fever, nausea, vomiting
- Pulmonary hypertension—shortness of breath, chest pain, fast or irregular heartbeat, feeling faint or lightheaded, fatigue, swelling of the ankles or feet
- Redness, blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin, including inside the mouth
- Stroke—sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, trouble speaking, confusion, trouble walking, loss of balance or coordination, dizziness, severe headache, change in vision
- Sudden or severe stomach pain, bloody diarrhea, fever, nausea, vomiting
- Tooth decay—change in tooth color, bad breath, sensitive gums or teeth
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your care team if they continue or are bothersome):
- Flu-like symptoms—fever, chills, muscle pain, cough, headache, fatigue
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite with weight loss
- Pain, redness, or irritation at injection site
- Unusual weakness or fatigue
This list may not describe all possible side effects. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Where should I keep my medication?
Keep out of the reach of children and pets.
Vials: Store at room temperature between 20 and 25 degrees C (68 and 77 degrees F). Do not freeze. Use immediately after mixing. If needed, the mixed solution may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
Single-use pre-filled pens: Store in the refrigerator. Do not freeze. Use immediately after mixing. If needed, the mixed solution may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
Get rid of any unused medication after the expiration date.
To get rid of medications that are no longer needed or have expired:
- Take the medication to a medication take-back program. Check with your pharmacy or law enforcement to find a location.
- If you cannot return the medication, ask your pharmacist or care team how to get rid of this medication safely.
NOTE: This sheet is a summary. It may not cover all possible information. If you have questions about this medicine, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.
Additional Information From Chemocare.com About Peg-Intron
- Take injections at bedtime. You may be able to sleep through "flu-like" symptoms.
- Drink 2 to 3 quarts of fluid every 24 hours, unless you were told to restrict your fluid intake.
- For flu-like symptoms, keep warm with blankets and drink plenty of liquids. There are medications that can help reduce the discomfort caused by chills.
- Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help relieve discomfort from fever, headache, generalized aches and pains. However, be sure to talk with your doctor before taking it.
- You may be at risk of infection so try to avoid crowds or people with colds or not feeling well, and report fever or any other signs of infection immediately to your healthcare provider.
- Wash your hands often.
- Avoid sun exposure. Wear SPF 15 (or higher) sun block and protective clothing.
- To reduce nausea, take anti-nausea medications as prescribed by your doctor, and eat small, frequent meals.
- In general, drinking alcoholic beverages should be kept to a minimum or avoided completely. You should discuss this with your doctor.
- You may experience drowsiness or dizziness; avoid driving or engaging in tasks that require alertness until your response to this drug is known.
- Conserve energy, try to get plenty of rest.
- Patients receiving this medication should have regular eye exams, especially if you have a history of diabetes or high blood pressure. Report any changes in vision immediately.
- If you experience symptoms or side effects, be sure to discuss them with your health care team. They can prescribe medications and/or offer other suggestions that are effective in managing such problems.
When to contact your doctor or health care provider:
Contact your health care provider immediately, day or night, if you should experience any of the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath, chest pain, rapid heart beat
- Depressed or have any thoughts of hurting yourself or others
The following symptoms require medical attention, but are not emergency situations. Contact your health care provider within 24 hours of noticing any of the following:
- Unusual bleeding or bruising
- Black or tarry stools, or blood in your stools or urine
- Diarrhea (4-6 episodes in a 24-hour period)
- Nausea that interferes with eating and is not relieved by prescribed medications
- Vomiting (vomiting more than 4-5 times in a 24-hour period)
- Persistent abdominal pain
- Feeling "faint" or dizzy
- Unusual fatigue
- Anxiety, changes in thinking or mood, confusion, difficulty concentrating or trouble sleeping
- Changes in eyesight
Always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.