It is very important that your doctor check the progress of you or your child at regular visits to make sure that this medicine is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
Using peginterferon alfa-2b together with ribavirin while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. These medicines may also cause birth defects if the father is using it when his sexual partner becomes pregnant. If a pregnancy occurs while you are using these medicines, tell your doctor right away.
A negative pregnancy test is needed in women who are of childbearing age before starting treatment with this medicine and ribavirin. Two forms of birth control must be used during treatment and for 6 months after treatment ends. You will need to have pregnancy tests done regularly to make sure you are not pregnant while being treated with these medicines and after your treatment ends.
This medicine can increase thoughts of suicide in people with or without a history of a mental illness. This medicine may also cause relapse in people with a history of substance abuse. Tell your doctor right away if you start to feel more depressed or exhibit aggressive behavior. Also tell your doctor right away if you have thoughts of hurting yourself. Report any unusual thoughts or behaviors that trouble you, especially if they are new or get worse quickly. Make sure your caregiver knows if you have trouble sleeping, get upset easily, have a big increase in energy, or start to act reckless. Also tell your doctor if you have sudden or strong feelings, such as feeling nervous, angry, restless, violent, or scared. If you, your child, or your caregiver notice any of these side effects during treatment and up to 6 months after treatment, tell your doctor or your child's doctor right away.
This medicine may cause a serious type of allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Stop using this medicine and call your doctor right away if you have itching, hives, hoarseness, trouble with breathing, trouble with swallowing, or any swelling of the hands, face, or mouth while you or your child are using this medicine.
Serious allergic reactions can occur with this medicine. Stop using this medicine and check with your doctor right away if you have blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin; fever or chills; hives or welts; red skin lesions; severe acne or skin rash; or sores or ulcers on the skin while you or your child are using this medicine.
Stop using this medicine and check with your doctor right away if blurred vision, difficulty in reading, eye pain, or any other change in vision occurs during or after treatment. Your doctor may want you to have your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist (eye doctor).
Peginterferon alfa-2b injection combined with ribavirin can temporarily lower the number of white blood cells in your blood, increasing the chance of getting an infection. It can also lower the number of platelets in the blood, which are necessary for proper blood clotting. If this occurs, there are certain precautions you or your child can take, especially when your blood count is low, to reduce the risk of infection or bleeding:
- If you can, avoid people with infections. Check with your doctor immediately if you think you are getting an infection or if you get a fever or chills, cough or hoarseness, lower back or side pain, or painful or difficult urination.
- Check with your doctor immediately if you notice any unusual bleeding or bruising; black, tarry stools; blood in the urine or stools; or pinpoint red spots on your skin.
- Be careful when using a regular toothbrush, dental floss, or toothpick. Your medical doctor, dentist, or nurse may recommend other ways to clean your teeth and gums. Check with your medical doctor before having any dental work done.
- Do not touch your eyes or the inside of your nose unless you have just washed your hands and have not touched anything else in the meantime.
- Be careful not to cut yourself when you are using sharp objects such as a safety razor or fingernail or toenail cutters.
- Avoid contact sports or other situations where bruising or injury could occur.
Check with your doctor right away if you or your child have pain or tenderness in the upper stomach; pale stools; dark urine; loss of appetite; nausea; unusual tiredness or weakness; or yellow eyes or skin. These could be symptoms of a serious liver problem.
Peginterferon alfa-2b injection when used together with ribavirin may cause teeth and gum problems. These medicines may cause dryness of the mouth, and a dry mouth may damage your teeth and gums if you take these medicines for a long time. To help prevent this condition, carefully brush your teeth at least two times a day and have regular visits with your dentist. For temporary relief of mouth dryness, use sugarless candy or gum, melt bits of ice in your mouth, or use a saliva substitute.
Stop using this medicine and check with your doctor right away if you or your child have symptoms that could lead to pancreatitis. This includes sudden and severe stomach pain, chills, constipation, nausea, vomiting, fever, or lightheadedness.
This medicine when used together with ribavirin may affect your child's growth. Your doctor may need to check your child's height and weight during and after treatment with these medicines.
Peripheral neuropathy may occur if you use this medicine together with telbivudine (Tyzeka®). Check with your doctor right away if you or your child are having burning, numbness, tingling, or painful sensations in the arms, hands, legs, or feet.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.