Hepatitis C Home > PegIntron and Pregnancy

It is unclear if PegIntron is safe for use in women who are expecting. In animal studies, a drug similar to PegIntron appeared to increase the risk for miscarriages. Importantly, PegIntron is typically used in combination with ribavirin, a medicine that should never be used during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider about the potential risks of using PegIntron.

Can Pregnant Women Use PegIntron?

PegIntron® (peginterferon alfa-2b) is a prescription injection used to treat hepatitis C. This drug may not be safe for use during pregnancy. Animal studies of PegIntron suggest that the medication may increase the risk for miscarriages.

What Is Pregnancy Category C?

PegIntron is classified as a pregnancy Category C drug. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses a category system to classify the possible risks to a fetus when a specific medicine is taken during pregnancy. Pregnancy Category C is given to medicines that have not been adequately studied in pregnant humans but have caused fetal harm in animal studies.
In addition, medicines that have not been studied in any pregnant women or animals are automatically given a pregnancy Category C rating.
When given to pregnant monkeys, a drug similar to PegIntron called interferon alfa-2b caused miscarriages. However, the medication did not appear to increase the risk for birth defects, probably because interferons are not expected to cross the placenta.
PegIntron has not been studied in pregnant humans. There are reports of similar interferon medications being used during pregnancy without any problems. However, such reports cannot rule out the possibility of rare complications.
Of upmost importance, PegIntron is usually used in combination with ribavirin (Rebetol®), a medication that must never be used during pregnancy. Ribavirin can cause birth defects and fetal death. Women who will be taking ribavirin must have a negative pregnancy test before starting the drug and must use two forms of birth control during treatment. The potential effects of the drug on a fetus are so severe that a man should not even take ribavirin if his female partner is pregnant.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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