Interferon Alfa-2b

Adult Medication

Brand Names: US

Intron A

Brand Names: Canada

Intron A

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 during treatment and within 6 months after the last dose. Alpha interferons may also cause or make infections, blood flow problems, or autoimmune diseases worse. 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, a heartbeat that does not feel normal, chest pain or pressure, trouble breathing, 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 cancer.
  • It is used to treat genital warts.
  • It is used to treat perianal warts.
  • It is used to treat hepatitis B and C infections.
  • It is used to treat skin wounds in patients with AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma.
  • It may be given to you for other reasons. Talk with the doctor.

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

  • If you have an allergy to this drug or any 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 ever had any of these health problems: Autoimmune disease or liver disease.
  • If you have had a transplant.
  • If you are breast-feeding or plan to breast-feed.
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?

All products:

  • Tell all of your health care providers that you take this drug. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • Avoid driving and doing other tasks or actions that call for you to be alert until you see how this drug affects you.
  • Tell your doctor if you have 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.
  • If you have high blood sugar (diabetes), you will need to watch your blood sugar closely.
  • 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.
  • Have an eye exam as you have been told by your doctor.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • If you are 65 or older, use this drug with care. You could have more side effects.
  • This drug may affect growth in children and teens in some cases. They may need regular growth checks. Talk with the doctor.
  • Use birth control that you can trust to prevent pregnancy while taking this drug.
  • 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.

Hepatitis infection:

  • It is not known if this drug will prevent liver failure or other liver problems like cancer. Talk with the doctor.
  • 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 be used with ribavirin. If you are also taking ribavirin, talk with the doctor about the risks and side effects that may happen.

Powder:

  • This drug is made from human plasma (part of the blood) and may have viruses that may cause disease. This drug is screened, tested, and treated to lower the chance that it carries an infection. Talk with the doctor.

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 infection like fever, chills, very bad sore throat, ear or sinus pain, cough, more sputum or change in color of sputum, pain with passing urine, mouth sores, or wound that will not heal.
  • Signs of a pancreas problem (pancreatitis) like very bad stomach pain, very bad back pain, or very bad upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Any unexplained bruising or bleeding.
  • Black, tarry, or bloody stools.
  • Throwing up blood or throw up that looks like coffee grounds.
  • Weakness on 1 side of the body, trouble speaking or thinking, change in balance, or blurred eyesight.
  • Very bad dizziness or passing out.
  • Shortness of breath, a big weight gain, swelling in the arms or legs.
  • Very bad headache.
  • Very bad belly pain.
  • A burning, numbness, or tingling feeling that is not normal.
  • Not able to focus.
  • Memory problems or loss.
  • Trouble walking.
  • Not able to pass urine or change in how much urine is passed.
  • Not able to handle heat or cold.
  • A change in weight without trying.
  • Anxiety.
  • Change in look of teeth or gums.
  • This drug may cause eye problems that may lead to loss of eyesight or blindness. Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had eye problems. Call your doctor right away if you have any changes in eyesight.

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:
  • Dizziness.
  • Feeling sleepy.
  • Feeling tired or weak.
  • Upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Irritation where the shot is given.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Loose stools (diarrhea).
  • Not hungry.
  • Hair loss.
  • Not able to sleep.
  • Change in taste.
  • Weight loss.
  • Hard stools (constipation).
  • Flu-like signs. These include headache, weakness, fever, shakes, aches, pains, and sweating.
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 all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

All products:

  • To gain the most benefit, do not miss doses.
  • Keep using this drug as you have been told by your doctor or other health care provider, even if you feel well.
  • It is given as a shot.
  • Follow how to use as you have been told by the doctor or read the package insert.
  • Before giving the shot, let it come to room temperature. Do not heat this drug.
  • Move the site where you give the shot with each shot.
  • Do not give into skin that is irritated, bruised, red, infected, or scarred.
  • Do not use if the solution is cloudy, leaking, or has particles.
  • Do not use if solution changes color.
  • Throw away needles in a needle/sharp disposal box. Do not reuse needles or other items. 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.
  • Drink lots of noncaffeine liquids unless told to drink less liquid by your doctor.
  • Take good care of your teeth. See a dentist often.
  • If you throw up, rinse your mouth out well.
  • Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
  • Avoid alcohol or other drugs and natural products that slow your actions.

Powder:

  • This drug must be mixed with sterile water before using. The sterile water that comes with this drug is meant for one use only. Throw away any part of the sterile water that is not used after one use.

Prefilled pen:

  • Do not share pen or cartridge devices with another person even if the needle has been changed. Sharing these devices may pass infections from one person to another. This includes infections you may not know you have.

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 the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your normal time.
  • Do not take 2 doses at the same time or extra doses.

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

All products:

  • Store in a refrigerator. Do not freeze.
  • Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to throw out unused drugs.

Powder:

  • After mixing, be sure you know how long the product is good for and how to store it. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure.
  • Throw away any part of opened vial not used after use.

Solution:

  • After opening, be sure you know how long the product is good for and how to store it. Ask the doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure.

Prefilled pen:

  • Put back in the refrigerator right after each use.
  • Throw away any part not used after 28 days.

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, nurse, 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.

Last Reviewed Date

2016-04-28

Copyright

© 2016 Wolters Kluwer Clinical Drug Information, Inc. and its affiliates and/or licensors. All rights reserved.