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Peginterferon Alfa-2a (peg in ter FEER on AL fa too aye)

Adult Medication

Brand Names: U.S.

Pegasys; Pegasys ProClick

Brand Names: Canada

Pegasys®

Warning

  • Alpha interferons may cause or make diseases of the mind worse. Taking one’s own life, ideas of killing yourself or murder, low mood (depression), forceful actions, hallucinations, psychoses, and relapse of drug addiction have happened with use. Alpha interferons may make infections worse, cause blood flow problems or some autoimmune diseases. If you think you have any of these health problems, call your doctor right away. Side effects such as low blood pressure, a fast heartbeat, and heart attacks have happened while taking alpha interferons. If you have very bad signs or if signs of these health problems get worse, talk with your doctor about stopping this drug. Problems are most often fixed after you stop the drug.

What is this drug used for?

  • It is used to treat hepatitis B and C infections.

What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take this drug?

  • If you have an allergy to peginterferon alfa-2a or any other part of this drug.
  • 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 any of these health problems: Autoimmune hepatitis or liver disease.
This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with this drug.
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 this drug 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 this drug?

  • Tell dentists, surgeons, and other doctors that you use this drug.
  • Avoid driving and doing other tasks or actions that call for you to be alert until you see how this drug affects you.
  • If you have high blood sugar (diabetes), talk with your doctor. This drug may raise blood sugar.
  • Check your blood sugar as you have been told by your doctor.
  • Have your blood work checked often. Talk with your doctor.
  • You may have more chance of getting an infection. Wash hands often. Stay away from people with infections, colds, or flu.
  • You may bleed more easily. Be careful and avoid injury. Use a soft toothbrush and an electric razor.
  • Avoid beer, wine, or mixed drinks.
  • This drug may cause eye problems that may lead to loss of eyesight or blindness. Tell your doctor if you have eye problems or have had them in the past. Have eye exams as you were told by your doctor. Talk with your doctor.
  • It is not known if this drug will prevent liver failure or other liver problems like cancer. Talk with the doctor.
  • This drug may be used with ribavirin. If you are also taking ribavirin, talk with the doctor about the risks and side effects that may happen.
  • This drug 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. Talk with your doctor.
  • This drug may affect growth in children and teens in some cases. They may need regular growth checks. Talk with the doctor.
  • Some products have benzyl alcohol. Do not give a product that has benzyl alcohol in it to a newborn. Talk with the doctor to see if this product has benzyl alcohol in it.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant. You will need to talk about the benefits and risks of using this drug while you are pregnant.
  • Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding. You will need to talk about any risks to your baby.

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 or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Signs of low mood (depression), thoughts of killing yourself, nervousness, emotional ups and downs, thinking that is not normal, anxiety, or lack of interest in life.
  • Signs of infection. These include a fever of 100.5°F (38°C) or higher, chills, very bad sore throat, ear or sinus pain, cough, more sputum or change in color of sputum, pain with passing urine, mouth sores, wound that will not heal, or anal itching or pain.
  • 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.
  • Chest pain or pressure or a fast heartbeat.
  • A heartbeat that does not feel normal.
  • Shortness of breath, a big weight gain, swelling in the arms or legs.
  • Very bad dizziness or passing out.
  • Change in strength on 1 side is greater than the other, trouble speaking or thinking, change in balance, or blurred eyesight.
  • Any bruising or bleeding.
  • Feeling very tired or weak.
  • Change in eyesight, eye pain, or very bad eye irritation.
  • Loss of eyesight.
  • A burning, numbness, or tingling feeling that is not normal.
  • Memory problems or loss.
  • Very bad and sometimes deadly lung problems have happened with this drug. Call your doctor right away if you have lung or breathing problems like trouble breathing, shortness of breath, or a cough that is new or worse.
  • Very bad and sometimes deadly liver problems have happened with this drug. 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.
  • Very bad and sometimes deadly bowel problems (colitis) have happened within 12 weeks of treatment with alpha interferons like this drug. Call your doctor right away if you have very bad belly pain, bloody loose stools, throwing up blood, or throw up that looks like coffee grounds.
  • Very bad and sometimes deadly pancreas problems (pancreatitis) have happened with this drug. This could happen at any time during care. Signs of pancreatitis include very bad stomach pain, very bad back pain, or very upset stomach or throwing up. Call your doctor right away if you have any of these signs.
  • 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.

What are some other side effects of this drug?

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. These include headache, weakness, fever, shakes, aches, pains, and sweating. Mild pain drugs may help.
  • Upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Loose stools (diarrhea).
  • Belly pain.
  • Not hungry.
  • Muscle or joint pain.
  • Dizziness.
  • Hair loss.
  • Not able to sleep.
  • Feeling tired or weak.
  • Irritation where the shot is given.
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 your national health agency.

How is this drug best taken?

Use this drug as ordered by your doctor. Read and follow the dosing on the label closely.
  • It is given as a shot into the fatty part of the skin.
  • Your doctor may teach you how to give the shot.
  • The shot is most often given once a week.
  • Follow how to give closely if you or a family member is giving the shot at home.
  • Wash your hands before and after use.
  • Before giving the shot, let it come to room temperature. Do not heat this drug.
  • 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.
  • Throw syringe away after use. Do not use more than one time.
  • Throw away needles in a needle/sharp disposal box. 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.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Take a missed dose as soon as you think about it.
  • If it is close to time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and call your doctor.
  • Do not take 2 doses at the same time or extra doses.
  • If you miss your dose by more than 2 days, call your doctor to find out what to do.

How do I store and/or throw out this drug?

  • Store in a refrigerator. Do not freeze.
  • Throw away unopened drug if left at room temperature for more than 24 hours.
  • Protect from light.
  • Throw away any part not used after use.
  • Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to throw out unused drugs.

General drug facts

  • 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.
  • Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. If you have any questions about this drug, please talk with your 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.

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from the healthcare provider. You must talk with the healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

Copyright

Copyright © 2014 Clinical Drug Information, LLC and Lexi-Comp, Inc.