PegIntron is a medicine prescribed to treat hepatitis C. It can be used alone, but may be more effective when combined with ribavirin. This medicine comes as an injection that is given just under the skin (subcutaneously) every week for 24 weeks up to 1 year (depending on various factors). Possible side effects may include fatigue, headaches, and muscle pain.
What Is PegIntron?
PegIntron® (peginterferon alfa-2b) is a prescription medication approved to treat hepatitis C. It works best when combined with ribavirin (Rebetol®), although it can be used alone if necessary. It works even better when combined with both ribavirin and a hepatitis C protease inhibitor (like Incivek™ or Victrelis™), although such a combination is not appropriate for all individuals.
PegIntron is made by Schering Corporation, a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc.
How Does PegIntron Work?
PegIntron 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, PegIntron 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 PegIntron is a protein, it would be broken down and destroyed by the digestive system if taken by mouth. For this reason, PegIntron must be injected to bypass the digestive tract.
PegIntron works to fight hepatitis C by activating the body's own response to viruses.
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