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interferon alfacon-1 (cont.)

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using interferon alfacon-1 (Infergen)?

Interferon alfacon-1 can cause serious side effects, some of which may be life-threatening. However, the benefits of treating your condition may outweigh any risks posed by using interferon alfacon-1. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of using this medication.

Interferon alfacon-1 is sometimes used together with another drug called ribavirin (Copegus, Rebetol, Ribasphere). Ribavirin can cause birth defects or death in an unborn baby.

  • If you are a woman, do not take ribavirin if you are pregnant. You will need frequent pregnancy tests to make sure you are not pregnant while taking ribavirin.
  • If you are a man, do not take ribavirin if your female sexual partner is pregnant. An unborn baby could also be harmed if a man fathers the child while he is taking ribavirin. Your sexual partner will need frequent pregnancy tests to make sure she is not pregnant while you are taking ribavirin.
  • Use at least two effective forms of birth control while either sexual partner is taking ribavirin, and 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 taking ribavirin.

You should not use interferon alfacon-1 if you are allergic to interferons, or if you have:

  • autoimmune hepatitis;
  • severe liver problems from causes other than hepatitis C;
  • severe kidney disease; or
  • a hemoglobin blood cell disorder such as sickle cell anemia or thalasssemia.

To make sure you can safely use interferon alfacon-1, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • hepatitis B or liver problems other than hepatitis C;
  • kidney disease;
  • diabetes, pancreatitis;
  • cancer;
  • bone marrow suppression;
  • HIV or AIDS;
  • a bleeding or blood clotting disorder;
  • numbness or circulation problems;
  • a thyroid disorder;
  • problems with your eyes;
  • a breathing disorder;
  • a history of depression, mental illness, suicidal thoughts, or drug or alcohol addiction;
  • heart disease, high blood pressure, a heart rhythm disorder, or history of a heart attack or stroke;
  • high triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood);
  • an autoimmune disorder such as psoriasis, arthritis, or lupus;
  • colitis or other intestinal disorder;
  • if you have had an organ transplant; or
  • if you use any medications that weaken your immune system.

FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether interferon alfacon-1 used without ribavirin is harmful to an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment with interfon alfacon-1.

It is not known whether interferon alfacon-1 passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I use interferon alfacon-1 (Infergen)?

Interferon alfacon-1 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.

This medication comes with patient instructions for safe and effective use. Follow these directions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

Interferon alfacon-1 injections are usually given 3 times each week. Give the injection at the same time of day each time you use interferon alfacon-1.

Use a different place on your upper arms, stomach, or thighs each time you give yourself an injection. Your care provider will show you the places on your body where you can safely inject the medication. Do not inject into the same place two times in a row.

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, looks cloudy, or has particles in it. Call your doctor for a new prescription.

Each single use vial (bottle) of this medicine is for one use only. Throw away after one use, even if there is still some medicine left in it after injecting your dose.

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.

To be sure this medication is not causing harmful effects, your blood may need to be tested often. Visit your doctor regularly.

Store interferon alfacon-1in the refrigerator. Do not freeze. Protect from light. Do not use the medication if it has become frozen or if it is past the expiration date on the medicine label.

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

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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