Hepatitis C Home > Pegasys Uses

How Does It Work?

Pegasys is a manufactured version of interferon and is almost identical to a naturally occurring human interferon. Interferons are naturally occurring proteins or glycoproteins (proteins attached to carbohydrates). In humans, interferons are produced by cells in response to certain situations, such as viral infections, and often play a key role in the immune system.
 
When given as medications, interferons do not last very long in the body. To get around this problem, Pegasys was made by attaching each interferon to a molecule of polyethylene glycol. This makes the medication last much longer, allowing for once-a-week dosing. Because Pegasys is a protein, it would be broken down and destroyed by the digestive system if taken by mouth. For this reason, the drug must be injected to bypass the digestive tract.
 
Pegasys works to fight hepatitis B and C by activating the body's own response to viruses.
 

Is It Safe for Children to Use Pegasys?

Pegasys is approved for children as young as five years old for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. It is only approved for use in adults age 18 and older to treat hepatitis B. Talk with your child's healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of using this medicine in children.
 

Off-Label Uses

On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend this medicine for something other than hepatitis B or C. This is called an "off-label" use. Pegasys and other similar medications have been used in clinical trials to treat various forms of cancer, so it is conceivable that this medication might be prescribed as part of cancer treatment in an off-label fashion.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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