What is this medicine?
INTERFERON ALFA-2b (in ter FEER on AL fa 2 b) is a man-made protein. Natural interferons are produced in the body to help the immune system fight viral infections and certain cancer growths. This medicine has similar actions to natural interferons and is used to treat AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma, certain types of hepatitis or certain cancers. This medicine may also be used to treat genital or perianal warts.
How should I use this medicine?
This medicine is for injection into a muscle or under the skin or for infusion into a vein. It is usually given by a health care professional in a hospital or clinic setting.
If you get this medicine at home, you will be taught how to prepare and give this medicine. Use exactly as directed. You can inject your dose at bedtime if you experience flu-like effects. Take your medicine at regular intervals. Do not take your medicine more often than directed.
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 healthcare provider 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 pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. While this medicine may be prescribed for children as young as 1 year of age for selected conditions, precautions do apply.
What side effects may I notice from receiving this medicine?
Side effects that you should report to your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible:
allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
black, tarry stools
blood in the urine
bruising or pinpoint red spots on the skin
changes in vision
difficulty thinking or concentrating
fainting spells, lightheadedness
irregular heartbeat, palpitations or chest pain
numbness or tingling in the fingers and toes
signs of infection like fever or chills, cough, sore throat, pain or difficulty passing urine
unusually weak or tired
Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your doctor or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):
changes in taste
loss of appetite
What may interact with this medicine?
What if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.
Where should I keep my medicine?
Keep out of the reach of children.
Store in a refrigerator between 2 and 8 degrees C (36 and 46 degrees F). If you are using the powder, it should be used immediately after mixing or may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Do not freeze. Throw away any unused vials or syringes after the expiration date.
What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?
They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
blood or bleeding disorders
bone marrow disease
depression or other mental disorders
heart or lung disease
kidney or liver disease
an unusual or allergic reaction to interferons, E. coli protein, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
pregnant or trying to get pregnant
What should I watch for while using this medicine?
Visit your doctor or health care professional for regular checks on your progress. You will need regular blood checks.
Do not change brands of this medicine without consulting your doctor or health care professional. Different brands of this medicine can act differently in your body. Check with your pharmacist if your refills do not look like your original product.
You may get drowsy or dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs mental alertness until you know how this medicine affects you. Do not stand or sit up quickly, especially if you are an older patient. This reduces the risk of dizzy or fainting spells. Alcohol can make you more drowsy or dizzy, increase confusion and lightheadedness. Avoid alcoholic drinks.
This medicine can cause flu-like symptoms and make you feel generally unwell. If you get a fever or sore throat that do not go away after the first few weeks of treatment, do not treat yourself. Report any of the above side effects, but continue your course of medicine even though you feel ill, unless your doctor or health care professional tells you to stop.
This medicine may decrease your body's ability to fight certain types of infections. This may be more of a concern if you are receiving high doses or other chemotherapy agents. Other signs of infection include lower back or side pain, pain or difficulty passing urine.
This medicine can cause blood problems or increase your risk to bruise or bleed. Call your doctor or health care professional if you notice any unusual bleeding. Be careful not to cut, bruise, or injure yourself because you may get an infection and bleed more than usual.