Peginterferon Alfa-2a and Ribavirin

Adult Medication

Brand Names: Canada

Pegasys RBV

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?

  • This product is made up of 2 drugs, ribavirin and peginterferon alfa-2a. They are used at the same time to treat some patients with hepatitis C infections.

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

For all patients taking this drug:

  • If you have an allergy to peginterferon alfa-2a, ribavirin, 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 disease, autoimmune hepatitis, high blood sugar or diabetes, kidney disease, low blood sugar, mental or mood problems, some types of anemia like sickle-cell anemia, thalassemia, thyroid disease, or very bad or worsening liver disease.
  • If you are taking any of these drugs: Didanosine, telbivudine, or the Chinese herbal drug sho-saiko-to (Xiao-Chai-Hu).
  • If you are a man with a sex partner who could get pregnant and are not using 2 kinds of birth control during your care or within 6 months after care ends.
  • If you are a man with a sex partner who is pregnant or plans on getting pregnant at any time while you are being treated or within 6 months after your care has ended.
  • If you are of childbearing age, but are not using 2 kinds of birth control or if you are planning to get pregnant during your care or within 6 months after care has ended.
  • If you are pregnant or may be pregnant. Do not take this drug if you are pregnant.
  • If you are breast-feeding. Do not breast-feed while you take this drug.

Children:

  • If your child is a newborn or infant. This drug has benzyl alcohol in it. Benzyl alcohol may cause very bad and sometimes deadly side effects in newborns or infants. Do not give this drug to a newborn or infant. This drug is not approved for use in children.
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 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.
  • 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.
  • Dental and gum problems have happened with this drug. Sometimes, these have led to loss of teeth. Talk with the doctor.
  • The ability of your bone marrow to make blood cells may be lowered. This can lead to very bad bleeding problems or infections. Tell your doctor right away if you have signs of infection like fever, chills, or sore throat; any bruising or bleeding; or if you feel very tired or weak.
  • 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.
  • A very bad blood problem called hemolytic anemia can happen with this drug. This can make heart disease worse and lead to very bad and sometimes deadly heart attacks. Tell your doctor if you have ever had heart problems. Do not take this drug if you have ever had very bad heart disease or heart problems that are not being treated. Call your doctor right away if you have chest pain while taking this drug.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Very bad and sometimes deadly pancreas problems (pancreatitis) have happened with this drug. Call your doctor right away if you have very bad stomach pain, very bad back pain, or very upset stomach or throwing up.
  • This drug may affect growth in children and teens in some cases. They may need regular growth checks. Talk with the doctor.
  • Use of this drug during pregnancy may cause birth defects or death of the unborn baby. You will need to have a pregnancy test to show that you are NOT pregnant before starting this drug. Talk with the doctor.
  • If you or your sex partner gets pregnant while taking this drug or within 6 months after stopping this drug, call your doctor right away.

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 thyroid problems like a change in weight without trying, feeling nervous and excitable, feeling restless, feeling very weak, hair thinning, low mood (depression), neck swelling, not able to focus, not able to handle heat or cold, period (menstrual) changes, shakiness, or sweating.
  • 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.
  • Signs of low blood sugar like dizziness, headache, feeling sleepy, feeling weak, shaking, a fast heartbeat, confusion, hunger, or sweating.
  • Weakness on 1 side of the body, trouble speaking or thinking, change in balance, drooping on one side of the face, or blurred eyesight.
  • Very bad dizziness or passing out.
  • Very bad headache.
  • Shortness of breath, a big weight gain, swelling in the arms or legs.
  • Not able to focus.
  • Memory problems or loss.
  • Lowered interest in sex.
  • A burning, numbness, or tingling feeling that is not normal.
  • Change in hearing.
  • Pain when passing urine.
  • 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.

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.
  • Upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Loose stools (diarrhea).
  • Back pain.
  • Belly pain.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Irritation where the shot is given.
  • Not hungry.
  • Weight loss.
  • Muscle or joint pain.
  • Hair thinning.
  • Not able to sleep.
  • Dizziness.
  • Skin irritation.
  • Dry skin.
  • Feeling tired or weak.
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:

  • Keep using this drug as you have been told by your doctor or other health care provider, even if you feel well.
  • Do not switch between different brands of this drug without first talking with the doctor.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol. Alcohol may make liver disease worse.
  • Take good care of your teeth. See a dentist often.
  • If you throw up, rinse your mouth out well.
  • If loose stools (diarrhea) happen or you are throwing up, call your doctor. You will need to drink more fluids to keep from losing too much fluid.
  • Drink lots of noncaffeine liquids after using this drug unless told to drink less liquid by your doctor.
  • Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
  • Check your blood sugar as you have been told by your doctor.
  • Have an eye exam as you have been told by your doctor.
  • If you are a man with a female sex partner who may get pregnant, she will need a pregnancy test each month during your care and for 6 months after you stop this drug.
  • If you are a man and have sex with a female who could get pregnant, protect her from pregnancy during care and for 6 months after care ends. Use 2 kinds of birth control that you can trust.
  • A pregnancy test will be done every month during care and for 6 months after care ends.
  • Use 2 kinds of birth control that you can trust while using this drug and for 6 months after stopping this drug.

Ribavirin:

  • Take this drug with food.

Peginterferon alfa-2a:

  • It is given as a shot into the fatty part of the skin on the right or left side of the belly or thigh.
  • Wash your hands before and after use.
  • Before giving the shot, let it come to room temperature. Do not heat this drug.
  • Do not use if the solution is cloudy, leaking, or has particles.
  • Do not use if solution changes color.
  • Do not shake.
  • Move the site where you give the shot with each shot.
  • Throw syringe away after use. Do not use the same syringe more than one time.
  • 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.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

Ribavirin:

  • Take a missed dose as soon as you think about it on the same day you missed the dose.
  • 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.
  • If you miss more than 1 day of taking this drug, talk with your doctor.

Peginterferon alfa-2a:

  • Take a missed dose as soon as you think about it and go back to your normal time.
  • 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?

Ribavirin:

  • Store in a refrigerator or at room temperature.
  • Do not freeze.

Peginterferon alfa-2a:

  • Store in a refrigerator. Do not freeze.
  • Protect from light.

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.
  • 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.
  • 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

2016-08-03

Copyright

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