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Current and Future Medications for Hepatitis C (cont.)

Interferons

Patient Comments
  • Previously, interferons were used in conjunction with ribavirin (RibaPak and others) to treat hepatitis C infection; however, currently they are infrequently used due to the availability of newer drugs on the market that can cure hepatitis C.
  • Interferons include drugs such as peginterferon alfa-2a (Pegasys), peginterferon alfa-2b (Pegintron), recombinant interferon alfa-2a (Roferon), and recombinant interferon alfa-2b (Intron A).
  • Pegylation slows the elimination of interferon from the body so that its effects last longer.
  • Pegylated interferons are given by injection once weekly.

How do interferons work?

Interferons are virus-fighting proteins the body makes naturally in response to viral infections. Interferons also have other actions in the body and have been used to treat a variety of diseases, for example, leukemias, other types of cancers, and multiple sclerosis. They indirectly act to help the immune system fight hepatitis C.

Who should not use interferons?

Individuals with autoimmune hepatitis, decompensated liver disease, or allergy to interferons should not use these medications. Peginterferon cannot be used in newborns.

Dosage Forms and Administration:

  • Peginterferon (PegIFN) is given as an injection under the skin once per week.
  • Recombinant interferon alfa-2a or alfa-2b is injected 3 times per week.

Drug or food interactions:

Peginterferon may increase theophylline levels in the blood.

Side effects:

Common side effects resemble flu symptoms and include

Up to 20% of individuals experience depression. Interferon should be discontinued if a person's depression becomes severe and he or she does not respond to antidepressant therapy or dose decreases.

Periodic eye examinations are recommended.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/21/2016
Pharmacy Author:

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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Hepatitis C Medications:

Hepatitis C Medications - Experience

Please share your experience with hepatitis C drugs.

Hepatitis C - Direct-Acting Agents

Please share your experience with DAA drugs (type of drug, any side effects, etc.). Also, is your hepatitis cured?

Hepatitis C - Interferons

Please share your experience with interferons to treat hep C (for example, side effects, drug interactions, etc.).

Hepatitis C - Ribavirin

Please share your experience with ribavirin (for example, side effects, drug interactions, etc.).


Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Hepatitis C »

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 170 million individuals worldwide are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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