July 24, 2016
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Pegasys Patient Information including How Should I Take

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using peginterferon alfa-2a (Pegasys)?

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to peginterferon alfa-2a, or if you have:

  • liver failure or autoimmune hepatitis;
  • a hemoglobin blood cell disorder such as sickle-cell anemia or thalassemia;
  • if you are pregnant; or
  • if you are a man and your sexual partner is pregnant.

To make sure you can safely use peginterferon alfa-2a, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • anemia (a lack of red blood cells);
  • liver problems other than hepatitis;
  • kidney disease (or if you are on dialysis);
  • HIV or AIDS;
  • diabetes;
  • a thyroid disorder;
  • lung disease;
  • a bleeding or blood clotting disorder;
  • heart disease or prior heart attack;
  • eye problems;
  • problems with your sleep;
  • colitis, or a history of stomach or intestinal bleeding;
  • an autoimmune disorder such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or psoriasis;
  • a history of cancer;
  • history of liver or other organ transplant;
  • history of depression, anxiety, mental illness, suicidal thoughts, or drug or alcohol addiction;
  • if you have both hepatitis B and hepatitis C; or
  • if you have used interferon alfa in the past and it was not effective.

Peginterferon alfa-2a is often used together with another medication called ribavirin. Ribavirin is known to cause birth defects or death in an unborn baby. You may need to have a negative pregnancy test before taking these two medications together.

  • If you are a woman, do not use peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin if you are pregnant.
  • If you are a man, do not use peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin if your sexual partner is pregnant. An unborn baby could also be harmed if a man fathers the child while he is taking ribavirin.
  • Use at least 2 effective forms of birth control while either sexual partner is using peginterferon alfa-2a with ribavirin. Keep using 2 forms of birth control for at least 6 months after treatment ends.
  • Tell your doctor right away if a pregnancy occurs while either the mother or the father is using peginterferon alfa-2a together with ribavirin.

It is not known whether peginterferon alfa-2a passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medication.

How should I use peginterferon alfa-2a (Pegasys)?

Peginterferon alfa-2a is injected under the skin. You may be shown how to use injections at home. Do not self-inject this medicine if you do not fully understand how to give the injection and properly dispose of used needles and syringes.

Peginterferon alfa-2a is usually given once per week, on the same day each week at about the same time of day. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results.

Do not shake the medication bottle or you may ruin the medicine. Prepare your dose in a syringe only when you are ready to give yourself an injection. Do not use the medication if it has changed colors or has particles in it. Call your doctor for a new prescription.

Use a disposable needle only once. Throw away used needles in a puncture-proof container (ask your pharmacist where you can get one and how to dispose of it). Keep this container out of the reach of children and pets.

Peginterferon alfa-2a can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections. This can make it easier for you to bleed from an injury or get sick from being around others who are ill. Your blood may need to be tested often. Visit your doctor regularly.

If you have hepatitis B you may develop liver symptoms while you are using peginterferon alfa-2a, and even after you stop using this medication. Your doctor may want to check your liver function more often if this happens.

If your doctor changes your brand, strength, or type of peginterferon alfa-2a, your dosage needs may change. Ask your pharmacist if you have any questions about the new kind of peginterferon alfa-2a you receive at the pharmacy.

Hepatitis is sometimes treated with a combination of drugs. Use all medications as directed by your doctor. Read the medication guide or patient instructions provided with each medication. Do not change your doses or medication schedule without your doctor's advice. Every person with hepatitis should remain under the care of a doctor.

Store in the refrigerator, protected from light. Do not freeze.

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You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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