interferon alfa-2b (Intron A)

Brand Names: Intron A

Generic Name: interferon alfa-2b

What is interferon alfa-2b (Intron A)?

Interferon alfa-2b is made from human proteins. Interferons help your body's immune system respond to bacteria, viruses, cancer, or other invading substances.

Interferon alfa-2b is used to treat hairy cell leukemia, malignant melanoma, follicular lymphoma, Kaposi's sarcoma caused by AIDS, and certain types of genital warts. Interferon alfa-2b is also used to treat chronic hepatitis B or C in adults, and to treat chronic hepatitis B in children who are at least 1 year old.

Interferon alfa-2b may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of interferon alfa-2b (Intron A)?

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives, skin rash with blistering and peeling; anxiety, chest pain, difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • new or worsening cough, fever, trouble breathing;
  • depression, irritability, confusion, thoughts about hurting yourself or others, or falling back into a previous pattern of drug addiction;
  • vision changes;
  • problems with your teeth;
  • severe stomach pain with bloody diarrhea;
  • sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), slurred speech, problems with balance;
  • heart problems--chest pain or pressure, fast heartbeats, sweating, feeling light-headed;
  • new or worsened autoimmune disorders--skin problems, joint pain or swelling, cold feeling or pale appearance in your fingers or toes;
  • signs of infection--fever, chills, body aches, cough with yellow or pink mucus, pain or burning when you urinate; or
  • signs of liver or pancreas problems--loss of appetite, upper stomach pain (that may spread to your back), nausea or vomiting, dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Your cancer treatments may be delayed or permanently discontinued if you have certain side effects.

Interferon alfa-2b with ribavirin can affect growth in children. Talk with your doctor if you think your child is not growing at a normal rate while using this medicine.

Common side effects may include:

  • flu-like symptoms, headache, feeling tired;
  • nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite;
  • thinning hair; or
  • swelling, pain, or burning where an injection was given.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What is the most important information I should know about interferon alfa-2b (Intron A)?

You should not use interferon alfa-2b if you have autoimmune hepatitis, or severe liver problems from causes other than hepatitis B or C.

Do not use interferon alfa-2b together with ribavirin if you are pregnant, or if you are a man and your sexual partner is pregnant. Prevent pregnancy while using this medicine, and for at least 6 months after you stop using it.

Interferon alfa-2b can cause life-threatening infections, autoimmune disorders, serious mood or behavior problems, or a stroke.

Call your doctor at once if you have: unusual changes in mood or behavior, chest pain, trouble breathing, sudden numbness or weakness, or signs of infection (fever, chills, cough with mucus, or burning when you urinate).

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using interferon alfa-2b (Intron A)?

You should not use interferon alfa-2b if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

  • autoimmune hepatitis, or severe liver problems from causes other than hepatitis B or C.

You should not use the combination of interferon alfa-2b and ribavirin if you have:

Tell your doctor if you have ever had

Interferon alfa-2b can harm an unborn baby or cause a miscarriage. Do not use interferon alfa-2b with ribavirin (Rebetol) if you are pregnant. The combination of these medicines can cause birth defects. Use 2 forms of effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using this drug combination and for at least 6 months after your last dose.

If a man fathers a child while using interferon alfa-2b and ribavirin, the baby may have birth defects. Use a condom to prevent pregnancy during your treatment. Continue using condoms for at least 6 months after you stop using this drug combination.

Tell your doctor right away if a pregnancy occurs while either the mother or the father is using interferon alfa-2b and ribavirin.

You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.

The powder form of interferon alfa-2b is made from human plasma (part of the blood) which may contain viruses and other infectious agents. Donated plasma is tested and treated to reduce the risk of it containing infectious agents, but there is still a small possibility it could transmit disease. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of using this medication.

How is interferon alfa-2b given (Intron A)?

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Interferon alfa-2b is injected into a muscle, under the skin, as an infusion into a vein, or directly into a genital wart. A healthcare provider will give your first dose and may teach you how to properly use the medication by yourself.

Your dose needs may change if you switch to a different brand, strength, or form of this medicine. Avoid medication errors by using only the form and strength your doctor prescribes.

Read and carefully follow any Instructions for Use provided with your medicine. Do not use interferon alfa-2b if you don't understand all instructions for proper use. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions.

Interferon alfa-2b powder must be mixed with a liquid (diluent) before using it. When using injections by yourself, be sure you understand how to properly mix and store the medicine.

Prepare your injection only when you are ready to give it. Do not use if the medicine looks cloudy, has changed colors, or has particles in it. Call your pharmacist for new medicine.

Interferon alfa-2b can increase your risk of bleeding or infection by changing the way your immune system works. You will need frequent medical tests. Your heart, lung, and liver function may also need to be checked.

Store this medicine in the refrigerator. Do not freeze. After mixing the powder with a diluent, store this mixture in the refrigerator and use it within 24 hours.

Each mixture or single-use vial (bottle) of this medicine is for one use only. Throw it away after one use, even if there is still medicine left inside. Throw away any leftover medicine in a multi-dose vial 30 days after the first use.

Use a needle and syringe only once and then place them in a puncture-proof "sharps" container. Follow state or local laws about how to dispose of this container. Keep it out of the reach of children and pets.

What happens if I miss a dose (Intron A)?

Use the medicine as soon as you remember, and then go back to your regular injection schedule. Do not use two doses at one time.

If several days pass after you miss a dose, call your doctor for instructions.

What happens if I overdose (Intron A)?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while using interferon alfa-2b (Intron A)?

Using this medicine will not prevent your disease from spreading. Follow your doctor's instructions about how to prevent passing the disease to another person.

Avoid drinking alcohol. It may increase your risk of liver damage.

Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how this medicine will affect you. Your reactions could be impaired.

What other drugs will affect interferon alfa-2b (Intron A)?

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines, especially:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect interferon alfa-2b, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Where can I get more information (Intron A)?

Your doctor or can provide more information about interferon alfa-2b.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

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