Peginterferon alfa-2a is used on its own or together with other medicines to treat long-term hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus infection.
Use Peginterferon alfa-2a exactly as directed by your doctor or according to the instructions on the label. Do not use more or less than instructed by your doctor.
Try to use the medicine on the same day and around the same time each week.
Peginterferon alfa-2a is available as a solution in a single-dose vial, prefilled syringe or autoinjector.
Peginterferon alfa-2a is to be injected subcutaneously (into the fatty layer under the skin, usually in the thigh, upper arm or abdomen area). If you or your caregiver had been given the proper training on the preparation and injection techniques of Peginterferon alfa-2a, you or your caregiver may do the administration.
Remember to rotate the injection sites. Do not inject into the same area all the time. New injection sites should be at least 1.5 inches away from the previous injection site. Do not inject within a 1-inch radius of the navel (belly button).
It may be necessary for you to use this medicine for a long time. Your doctor will advise you on the treatment timeframe.
If you miss a dose and it is within 2 days of the usual day of administration, use the missed dose as soon as you remember and return to your normal dosing schedule.
If it is more than 2 days from the usual day of administration, contact your doctor for advice.
DO NOT double a dose under any circumstances.
If you often forget to use your medicine, let your doctor and pharmacist know.
Do not take this medicine if you ever had an allergic reaction (rashes, breathlessness, swollen eyes) to Peginterferon alfa-2a or similar medicines.
Alert your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- liver disease
- history of severe heart disease
- existing or history of mental illness (in children and teenagers)
as Peginterferon alfa-2a may not be suitable for you.
Do not take this medicine with Ribavirin if you are pregnant or planning to have a baby soon. If you become pregnant while being treated with these medicines, alert your doctor immediately. Ribavirin may cause harm to your unborn child. It is important that you do not get pregnant during the treatment. You must use proven birth control methods while taking Peginterferon alfa-2a with Ribavirin. You may wish to discuss birth control methods with your doctor or pharmacist.
Do not give Peginterferon alfa-2a to children 3 years old and below unless instructed to do so by the doctor.
DO NOT take this medicine with telbivudine (medicine for hepatitis B infection).
Inform your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- existing or history of mental illness
- blood disorders (low red blood cell, white blood cell or platelet count)
- autoimmune disease (condition wherein your immune cells attack your own body)
- thyroid disorder
- eye disease
- kidney disease
- heart disease
- seizure disorder
Let your doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Peginterferon alfa-2a may not reduce your risk of passing hepatitis B or C to other people through sexual contact or contamination with infected blood. Ensure that you take proper precautions to avoid spreading hepatitis B or C virus infection to others. Do not share razors, nail clippers and toothbrushes with others. Practice safe sex; use condoms to protect your partner.
Keep your appointments with your doctor. Your doctor needs to monitor your condition and check your response to the medication regularly. For as long as you are taking this medicine, you may need to have regular blood tests (e.g. liver and kidney function tests, complete blood count). Your doctor will advise you about how often you need to have blood tests.
This medicine may cause drowsiness, confusion or tiredness. If affected, do not drive or take part in any activity in which you need to be alert.
Other side effects include any of the following: dizziness, depression, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, flu-like symptoms including fever, muscle aches, headache and shivering, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, joint pain, blurred vision, pain at injection site, hair loss and itch.
In children, Peginterferon alfa-2a may cause a slowing down of growth.
Peginterferon alfa-2a may cause the level of your red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets to drop.
Red blood cells carry oxygen around your body. A fall in the level of red blood cells may make you feel tired and worn out.
White blood cells help your body to fight infections. A fall in the level of your white blood cells may put you at higher risk for infections, such as coughs, colds and flu, which may lead to more serious infections. Avoid crowded places and people who are sick. Alert your doctor if you have a fever, or a cough or flu that does not go away.
Platelets help your blood to clot when there is a cut in the skin. A fall in the level of your platelets may put you at risk of bleeding more than usual. Do not take part in activities where you may fall or get injured, such as contact sports. Alert your doctor if you get any unusual bruising (large bruises or several bruises, especially if the bruises appeared on their own) or bleeding that takes a long time to stop (for example, too much bleeding when you floss or brush your teeth).
Some side effects may need immediate medical help. Alert your doctor quickly if you experience any of the following:
- thoughts of self-harm, unusual changes in mood or behavior (being too depressed, agitated, or having compulsive and impulsive behavior) or seeing, hearing or feeling things that are not there
- chest pains with shortness of breath
- weakness, loss of coordination, numbness, slurred speech
- changes in your vision
- yellowing of the skin or eyes with abdominal pain or persistent tiredness, nausea or vomiting
- symptoms of lung disease like shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, cough and weight loss
- abdominal pain with bloody diarrhoea and fever
- abdominal pain with swollen abdomen, nausea and vomiting, fever or increased heart rate
- rashes, breathlessness, swelling of the face, eyes or mouth
- rashes with peeling of the skin or blistering of the lips, mouth or eyes accompanied by fever
Inform your doctor if any of these side effects do not go away or are severe, or if you experience other side effects.
Do not take Peginterferon alfa-2a with telbivudine (medicine for hepatitis B infection).
Inform your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any of these medicines:
- theophylline (medicine for asthma)
- methadone (medicine used to relieve pain)
- other antiviral medicines e.g. zidovudine, ribavirin
This list does not include all medicines that may interact with Peginterferon alfa-2a.
Always notify your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including herbal tonics such as traditional Chinese medicines, supplements and medicines that you buy without a prescription.
Store in the refrigerator, between 2-8 °C, away from the reach of children. Do not allow to freeze. Protect from light.
Medicines must not be used past the expiry date.
Throw away any unused portion after opening.
Do not use this medicine if it becomes cloudy or if it has changed in colour.