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PegIntron Warnings and Precautions

You should tell your doctor if you have a history of depression, rheumatoid arthritis, or lung problems before starting treatment with PegIntron. Other safety precautions include warnings of an increased risk for psychiatric problems, heart problems, or eye problems. In addition, PegIntron can interfere with many other medications, and may not be safe for people who have certain allergies or severe liver disease.

What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

Talk to your healthcare provider prior to using PegIntron® (peginterferon alfa-2b) if you have:
 
 
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
 
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
 
You should also tell your healthcare provider about all other medications you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
 

Specific Precautions and Warnings for PegIntron

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to using this medicine include the following:
 
  • Interferon medications, including PegIntron, may increase the risk for depression or other psychiatric problems. Make sure your healthcare provider knows if you have depression or another mood disorder (such as bipolar disorder or manic depression) or if your depression seems to get worse while you are using PegIntron.
 
  • In studies, PegIntron appeared to increase the risk for heart problems, such as heart attacks or irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias). If you develop heart problems, you will probably need to stop taking this medication permanently.
 
  • PegIntron can cause a variety of problems in the eye, including damage to the retina, which can lead to blindness. Let your healthcare provider know immediately if you develop any vision changes, such as blurred vision. You will need eye exams before you start PegIntron and periodically thereafter.
 
  • There have been reports of strokes in people using PegIntron or other similar medications. Some of these cases occurred in people who were not otherwise at risk for a stroke. However, there is no clear link between PegIntron and strokes at this time.
 
  • This medicine can cause low blood cell counts, increasing the risk for dangerous infections or serious bleeding. You will need periodic blood tests to make sure your blood cell counts are not dropping too low.
 
  • There have been cases of PegIntron causing (or worsening preexisting) autoimmune disorders, such as:
 
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Psoriasis
    • Thyroiditis
    • Interstitial nephritis
    • Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura
    • Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura
    • Lupus.
 
  • PegIntron often causes poor growth in children. Often, but not always, growth catches up after treatment is finished.
 
  • There have been reports of colitis in people using PegIntron. Let your healthcare provider know right away if you have symptoms of this problem, such as:
 
    • Bloody diarrhea
    • Abdominal (stomach) pain
    • Fever.
 
  • There have been reports of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), which may be quite dangerous, in people using PegIntron. Let your healthcare provider know immediately if you have any signs of pancreatitis, such as:
 
    • Severe abdominal (stomach) pain
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Loss of appetite.
 
  • PegIntron can cause or worsen potentially serious lung problems. Make sure your healthcare provider knows if you have any lung problems before starting treatment.
 
  • This drug can sometimes cause liver failure. Your liver will need to be closely monitored during treatment.
 
  • This medicine can worsen kidney function, particularly in people who already have kidney disease. Your kidney function may need to be monitored during treatment.
 
  • In rare cases, PegIntron can cause serious allergic reactions.
 
  • Various dental problems have been reported with PegIntron. Make sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day and see your dentist regularly while using this medicine.
 
 
  • This product can affect thyroid function, sometimes unpredictably. It is recommended that your healthcare provider check your thyroid function, using a simple blood test, before you start this medication and periodically thereafter.
 
  • This medication might cause diabetes. Your healthcare provider may want to check your blood sugar levels periodically.
 
 
  • PegIntron is a pregnancy Category C medication. This means that it may not be safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks are currently unknown (see PegIntron and Pregnancy). Keep in mind that PegIntron is usually combined with ribavirin (Rebetol®), a medication that should never be used during pregnancy.
 
  • It is not known whether PegIntron passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to using the drug (see PegIntron and Breastfeeding).
 

PegIntron Drug Information

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