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All about: Interferon Alfa-2b Powder

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Generic Name: Interferon Alfa-2b Powder for Injection (in-ter-FEER-on AL-fuh)
Brand Name: Intron-A

Interferon Alfa-2b Powder can cause or worsen some serious medical conditions, including psychiatric conditions (eg, depression), immune system problems (autoimmune conditions such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis), circulation problems (eg, cardiovascular disease, blood clots), or infections (bone marrow suppression). If your medical history includes any of these conditions, inform your doctor promptly. These conditions occur infrequently, but some can be fatal.

Interferon Alfa-2b Powder is used for:

Treating some patients for certain types of leukemia, lymphoma, and hepatitis; certain AIDS-related illnesses (eg, Kaposi sarcoma); and genital warts (condylomata acuminata). It may also be used to treat other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Interferon Alfa-2b Powder is an interferon. How Interferon Alfa-2b Powder works is not fully understood. It is thought to help the immune system fight tumor cells and viruses, as well as decrease their ability to reproduce.

Do NOT use Interferon Alfa-2b Powder if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in Interferon Alfa-2b Powder
  • you have certain liver problems (eg, autoimmune hepatitis, liver decompensation)
  • you have a history of an autoimmune disease (eg, lupus)
  • you have mental or mood problems (eg, depression) or have had thoughts of suicide
  • you have had organ transplant surgery and are taking medicine to decrease your immune system

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Before using Interferon Alfa-2b Powder:

Some medical conditions may interact with Interferon Alfa-2b Powder. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have liver problems, heart problems, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, diabetes, epilepsy or seizures, lung problems, thyroid problems, stomach or intestinal problems (eg, colitis, stomach or intestinal bleeding), eye or vision problems, kidney problems, or inflammation of the pancreas, or if you have had a heart attack
  • if you have immune system problems, bone marrow problems or low blood cell counts, bleeding problems, trouble sleeping, chickenpox, shingles, HIV, or high blood cholesterol or lipid levels
  • if you have had an organ transplant surgery
  • if you have a history of alcohol or other substance abuse or addiction

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with Interferon Alfa-2b Powder. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Anticoagulants (eg, warfarin), fluorouracil, or theophyllines because their actions and the risk of their side effects may be increased by Interferon Alfa-2b Powder
  • Any medicines that decrease your immune system following organ transplant surgery (eg, cyclosporine) because they may decrease Interferon Alfa-2b Powder's effectiveness
  • Interleukin-2 or zidovudine because the risk of bone marrow problems, worsening diabetes, or kidney problems may be increased

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Interferon Alfa-2b Powder may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use Interferon Alfa-2b Powder:

Use Interferon Alfa-2b Powder as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Interferon Alfa-2b Powder comes with an extra patient information sheet called a Medication Guide. Read it carefully. Read it again each time you get Interferon Alfa-2b Powder refilled.
  • Interferon Alfa-2b Powder is usually given as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. If you will be using Interferon Alfa-2b Powder at home, a health care provider will teach you how to use it. Be sure you understand how to use Interferon Alfa-2b Powder. Follow the procedures you are taught when you use a dose. Contact your health care provider if you have any questions.
  • Do not use Interferon Alfa-2b Powder if it contains particles, is cloudy or discolored, or if the vial is cracked or damaged.
  • Use Interferon Alfa-2b Powder at bedtime unless directed otherwise.
  • Drinking extra fluids while you are taking Interferon Alfa-2b Powder is recommended, especially at the beginning of treatment. Check with your doctor for instructions.
  • If you miss a dose of Interferon Alfa-2b Powder, check with your doctor for further instructions. Do not use 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use Interferon Alfa-2b Powder.

Important safety information:

  • Interferon Alfa-2b Powder may cause dizziness, drowsiness, lightheadedness, or changes in vision. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use Interferon Alfa-2b Powder with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • Do not drink alcohol or use medicines that may cause drowsiness (eg, sleep aids, muscle relaxers) while you are using Interferon Alfa-2b Powder; it may add to their effects. Ask your pharmacist if you have questions about which medicines may cause drowsiness.
  • Do not change brands of Interferon Alfa-2b Powder without discussing it with your doctor.
  • Interferon Alfa-2b Powder contains albumin, which comes from human blood. There is a very rare risk of getting a viral disease or a central nervous system disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from products with albumin. No cases of these problems have been found in patients who have used Interferon Alfa-2b Powder.
  • Keep this product, as well as syringes and needles, out of the reach of children and pets. Do not reuse needles, syringes, or other materials. Ask your health care provider how to dispose of these materials after use. Follow all local rules for disposal.
  • Interferon Alfa-2b Powder may cause you to become sunburned more easily. Avoid the sun, sunlamps, or tanning booths until you know how you react to Interferon Alfa-2b Powder. Use a sunscreen or wear protective clothing if you must be outside for more than a short time.
  • Tell your doctor or dentist that you take Interferon Alfa-2b Powder before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.
  • Interferon Alfa-2b Powder may raise your blood sugar. High blood sugar may make you feel confused, drowsy, or thirsty. It can also make you flush, breathe faster, or have a fruit-like breath odor. If these symptoms occur, tell your doctor right away.
  • Lab tests, including liver function and complete blood cell count, may be performed while you use Interferon Alfa-2b Powder. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Use Interferon Alfa-2b Powder with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially certain heart side effects and confusion.
  • Interferon Alfa-2b Powder should not be used in CHILDREN younger than 12 years old; safety and effectiveness in these children have not been confirmed.
  • Men who take Interferon Alfa-2b Powder should always use a condom when having sex with a woman who may become pregnant. Do this for as long as you take Interferon Alfa-2b Powder and for 6 months after you stop taking it.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: This medicine may cause harm to the fetus. Do not become pregnant while you are using it. If you think you may be pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using Interferon Alfa-2b Powder while you are pregnant. It is not known if Interferon Alfa-2b Powder is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking Interferon Alfa-2b Powder.

Possible side effects of Interferon Alfa-2b Powder:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Diarrhea; dizziness; flu-like symptoms (eg, headache, muscle aches, mild fever or chills); hair thinning; increased sweating; loss of appetite; mild redness, swelling, or itching at the injection site; nausea; tiredness; weight loss.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue; unusual hoarseness); black, tarry, or bloody stools; bloody diarrhea; chest pain; confusion; dark urine; decreased concentration; decreased urination; fainting; fast or irregular heartbeat; high or persistent fever, chills, or sore throat; mental or mood changes (eg depression, hallucination, irritability, nervousness, anxiety, aggressive behavior); numbness of an arm or leg; one-sided weakness; severe nausea or vomiting; severe or persistent dizziness or headache; severe stomach or lower back pain; shortness of breath; slurred speech; symptoms of high blood sugar (eg, increased thirst or urination, unusual drowsiness, flushing, fruit-like breath odor); thoughts of killing or hurting yourself or others; unusual bleeding or bruising; vision problems or changes (eg, decrease or loss of vision); yellowing of skin or eyes.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions or need medical advice about side effects, contact your doctor or health care provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 (1-800-332-1088) or at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center (http://www.aapcc.org/findyour.htm), or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include coma; extreme lethargy; fatigue.

Proper storage of Interferon Alfa-2b Powder:

Store Interferon Alfa-2b Powder in the refrigerator, between 36 and 46 degrees F (2 and 8 degrees C). Do not freeze. Keep Interferon Alfa-2b Powder, as well as syringes and needles, out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about Interferon Alfa-2b Powder, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Interferon Alfa-2b Powder is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.

This information is a summary only. It does not contain all information about Interferon Alfa-2b Powder. If you have questions about the medicine you are taking or would like more information, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.

Issue Date: September 5, 2007
Database Edition
Copyright © 2007 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

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