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Drug Guide    I   Interferon Alfa-2A

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   Interferon Alfa-2A

Interferon Alfa-2A
Inj


This medication is used to treat various cancers (e.g., leukemia, melanoma, AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma). It is also used to treat virus infections (e.g., chronic hepatitis B, chronic hepatitis C, condylomata acuminata). This medication is the same as a protein that your body naturally produces (interferon). In the body, it is thought to work by affecting cell function/growth and the body's natural defenses (immune system) in many ways. Adding more interferon may help your body fight off cancer or virus infections.

 
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 Interferon Alfa-2A images:

OverviewPhotosHow To UseSide EffectsPrecautionsMissed DoseDrug Interactions
Interferon Alfa-2A

Uses
This medication is used to treat various cancers (e.g., leukemia, melanoma, AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma). It is also used to treat virus infections (e.g., chronic hepatitis B, chronic hepatitis C, condylomata acuminata). This medication is the same as a protein that your body naturally produces (interferon). In the body, it is thought to work by affecting cell function/growth and the body's natural defenses (immune system) in many ways. Adding more interferon may help your body fight off cancer or virus infections.
Notes
  • Do not share this medication with others.Laboratory and/or medical tests (e.g., complete blood count, blood chemistry, liver or thyroid function tests) should be performed periodically to monitor your progress or check for side effects.
  • Consult your doctor for more details.

Storage
  • Store in the refrigerator between 36-46 degrees F (2-8 degrees C) away from light and moisture.
  • Do not freeze.
  • The multidose pen may be used for up to 4 weeks after the first injection.
  • After 4 weeks of use, discard the pen, even if it still contains unused solution.
  • Keep all medicines away from children and pets.Do not leave this medicine outside of the refrigerator for more than 24 hours.
  • For storage instructions for your particular brand, check the package storage information or ask your pharmacist.

Overdose
  • Symptoms of overdose may include: chest pain, persistent nausea/vomiting, stomach/abdominal pain, dark urine.

How To Use
  • Read the Medication Guide available from your pharmacist before you start using this drug and each time you get a refill.
  • Learn all preparation and usage instructions given by the manufacturer.
  • If you have any questions, consult your doctor or pharmacist.Before using, check this product visually for particles or discoloration.
  • If either is present, do not use the liquid.
  • Do not shake the medication container (vial or syringe).
  • Doing so may decrease the effectiveness of the drug.This medication is given by injection into a muscle or under the skin as directed by your doctor.
  • Rotate the injection site each time you inject this medication to prevent soreness.
  • It may also be given by injection into a vein or directly into a lesion, usually by a health care professional.
  • If you are using this medication at home, it is best used in the evening before bedtime to reduce side effects.Drink plenty of fluids while using this medication unless otherwise directed by your doctor.Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to therapy.
  • Do not change the dose or how often you use this medication without your doctor's approval.
  • Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it.
  • To help you remember, use it at the same time each evening that you have a scheduled dose.Different brands of interferon alfa can result in different amounts of medication in the blood.
  • This medication comes in different forms (a powder in a vial, a solution in a vial, and a multidose pen).
  • The way you inject this medication depends on the form you are using.
  • Follow your doctor's directions carefully.
  • Do not switch brands without your doctor's permission.Learn how to store and discard needles and medical supplies safely.
  • Never reuse single-use syringes or needles.
  • It is okay to reuse the multidose pen (see Storage section).
  • Consult your pharmacist for details.

Side Effects
  • Injection site reactions (pain/swelling/redness), diarrhea, upset stomach, loss of appetite, back pain, dizziness, dry mouth, taste changes, nausea, or vomiting may occur.
  • If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.Flu-like symptoms such as headache, tiredness, fever, chills, and muscle aches may occur, especially when you first start this medication.
  • These symptoms usually last about 1 day after the injection and improve or go away after a few weeks of continued use.
  • You can reduce these side effects by injecting this medicine at bedtime and using a fever reducer/pain reliever such as acetaminophen before each dose.
  • Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more information.Temporary hair loss may occur.
  • Normal hair growth should return after treatment has ended.Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects.
  • Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.Tell your doctor immediately if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: mental/mood changes (e.g., confusion, depression, irritability, thoughts of suicide), feeling too hot or cold (more than others around you), fast/irregular heartbeat, menstrual changes (absent/delayed/irregular periods), numbness/tingling of hands/feet, persistent tiredness, swelling (especially of face/hands/feet), trouble sleeping, trouble walking, vision changes.Tell your doctor immediately if any of these rare but very serious side effects occur: chest pain, easy bleeding/bruising, persistent nausea/vomiting, seizures, signs of infection (e.g., fever, persistent sore throat), stomach/abdominal pain, sudden decrease in amount of urine, dark urine, black/tarry stools, yellowing eyes/skin.A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare.
  • However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, trouble breathing.If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

Precautions
  • Before taking interferon alfa, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to albumin; or if you have any other allergies.This medication should not be used if you have certain medical conditions.
  • Before using this medicine, consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have: severe liver conditions (e.g., autoimmune hepatitis, decompensated liver disease).Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: blood cell disorders (e.g., anemia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia), cancer, diabetes, eye problems, heart disease (e.g., angina, irregular heartbeat), high blood pressure, HIV infection, immune system diseases (e.g., lupus, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis), intestinal disease (e.g., colitis), kidney disease, liver disease, lung diseases (e.g., chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD, asthma, pneumonia), mental/mood disorders (e.g., anxiety, depression), pancreatitis, seizure disorder, thyroid disease, use/abuse of drugs/alcohol.This drug may make you dizzy.
  • Use caution while driving, using machinery, or doing any activity that requires alertness.
  • Limit alcoholic beverages.Do not have immunizations/vaccinations without the consent of your doctor, and avoid contact with people who have recently received oral polio vaccine or flu vaccine inhaled through the nose.
  • Wash your hands well to prevent the spread of infections.To lower your risk of getting cut, bruised, or injured, use caution with sharp objects like razors and nail cutters, and avoid activities such as contact sports.If you take both interferon and ribavirin, you may quickly develop a certain serious blood problem (anemia).
  • Talk with your doctor immediately if you feel sudden increased tiredness or fast/pounding heartbeat while taking interferon along with ribavirin.Caution is advised when using this drug in the elderly because they may be more sensitive to the effects of the drug, especially dizziness, mental/mood changes, and effects on the heart.A preservative (benzyl alcohol) that might be found in this product or in the liquid used to mix this product can infrequently cause serious (sometimes fatal) problems if given in large amounts (more than 100 milligrams per kilogram daily) to an infant during the first months of life.
  • The risk is also greater with low-birth-weight infants.
  • Symptoms include sudden gasping, low blood pressure, or very slow heartbeat.
  • If you notice any of these symptoms in your newborn, report them to the doctor immediately.
  • If possible, a preservative-free product should be used when treating newborns.This medication is not recommended for use during pregnancy due to possible harm to an unborn baby and the risk of serious side effects for the pregnant woman.
  • If you become pregnant or think you may be pregnant, tell your doctor immediately.
  • To avoid pregnancy, both males and females using this drug must use reliable form(s) of birth control (e.g., condoms, birth control pills) during treatment with this drug.
  • Talk with your doctor about effective forms of birth control.It is not known whether this drug passes into breast milk.
  • Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.

Missed Dose
  • If you miss a dose, use it as soon as you remember, then contact your doctor to establish a new dosing schedule.
  • Do not double the dose to catch up.

Drug Interactions
  • Your doctor or pharmacist may already be aware of any possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for them.
  • Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with your doctor or pharmacist first.Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all prescription and nonprescription/herbal products you may use, especially of: barbiturates (e.g., phenobarbital), colchicine, drugs that may affect your immune system (e.g., cancer chemotherapy, aldesleukin, cyclosporine), hydroxyurea, theophyllines (e.g., aminophylline, theophylline), zidovudine.

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CONDITIONS OF USE: The information in this database is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgement of healthcare professionals. The information is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions or adverse effects, nor should it be construed to indicate that use of a particular drug is safe, appropriate or effective for you or anyone else. A healthcare professional should be consulted before taking any drug, changing any diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment.

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