Peginterferon alfa-2a & Ribavirin (Pegasys RBV, Pegasys + Copegus) [Peg-INTER-fear-on]
How to use this Medication
What is it
Interferons are proteins that are normally made by your body. Interferons fight viral infections. Peginterferon alfa-2a is a long acting type of interferon. Peginterferon alfa-2a is a medicine that helps to fight chronic viral infections like hepatitis C. Ribavirin is a medication that also fights the hepatitis C virus.
Given by injection (peginterferon alfa-2a)
Peginterferon alfa-2a is given by injection once a week. You, a friend, or a family member can be taught how to give the injection.
Given as tablets (ribavirin)
Ribavirin comes as 200 mg tablets . The normal dose is 2 to 4 tablets taken twice a day. Discuss with your doctor.
Peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin are given for 24-48 weeks. The length of therapy depends on many factors. Please talk with your doctor.
What you Need to do
Get regular blood tests
It is important to have your blood tested regularly. This is important to make sure the medication is working. It is also important to check your blood counts and liver.
Alcohol can interfere with peginterferon alfa-2a. It is best to avoid alcohol.
Call your doctor/nurse if you have an infection
Peginterferon alfa-2a might make it harder for you to fight off infections. Contact your doctor or nurse if:
- You develop a fever
- You think you have an infection
- You are given antibiotics to treat an infection
Don’t get pregnant or breastfeed
Ribavirin can cause birth defects or stillbirth. Peginterferon alfa-2a has not been studied in pregnancy. It is important to make sure you are not pregnant before you start peginterferon alfa-2a and ribavirin. Discuss with your doctor or nurse.
Side Effects and Important Things to Know
Fever, chills, sore muscles and joints, tiredness, and headaches are common within the first 1-2 days after each peginterferon alfa-2a injection.
Injection Site reactions
Peginterferon alfa-2a can cause a reaction (redness, pain & itching) at the injection site. Tell your doctor or nurse if these are severe.
Tiredness & fatigue
Peginterferon alfa-2a can make you feel weak and tired.
Peginterferon alfa-2a can cause a loss of appetite and weight loss. Let your doctor or nurse know if you are losing weight while taking peg interferon alfa-2a.
Mood & behavioral problems
Let your doctor or nurse know if you feel irritable or anxious or experience worsening depression or thoughts of suicide while taking peg interferon alfa-2a.
Shortness of breath & chest pain
Tell your doctor or nurse if you develop shortness of breath or chest pain.
Peginterferon alfa-2a has rarely been associated with thyroid and blood sugar problems.
Peginterferon alfa-2a & ribavirin may cause a rash. This is rare.
Peginterferon alfa-2a can rarely cause thinning or loss of the hair.
When Should I call my Doctor
Please Call if you Need to Stop
- If you feel sick and want to stop
- If you are concerned about any side effects
- If you want to or have already stopped the medicine
Other reasons to call your doctor or nurse:
Chest pain or shortness of breath
Depression or thoughts of suicide
If you become pregnant
Changes in your vision
If you develop a rash