It is very important that your doctor check the progress of you or your child at regular visits to make sure this medicine is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
Using interferon alfa-2b injection 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 combination treatment with interferon alfa-2b injection and ribavirin. Two forms of birth control must be used during treatment and for six 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 may cause serious types of allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Stop using this medicine and call your doctor right away if you or your child have itching, hives, hoarseness, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, or any swelling of your hands, face, mouth, or throat.
Interferon alfa-2b injection 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, 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.
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.
The powder form of this medicine contains albumin, which comes from human blood. Some human blood products have transmitted certain viruses to people who have received them. The risk of getting a virus from medicines made of human blood has been greatly reduced in recent years. This is the result of required testing of human donors for certain viruses, and testing during manufacture of these medicines. Although the risk is low, talk with your doctor if you have concerns.
Stop using this medicine and check with your doctor if blurred vision, decreased vision, or any other change in vision occurs during your treatment. Your doctor may want you or your child to have your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist (eye doctor).
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. These could be symptoms of a condition called peripheral neuropathy.
Stop using this medicine and 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.
This medicine may cause some people to become dizzy, drowsy, or less alert than they are normally. Make sure you know how you react to this medicine before you drive, operate machinery, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are dizzy or not alert.
Interferon alfa-2b injection and ribavirin combination may cause a dry mouth. For temporary relief of mouth dryness, use sugarless candy or gum, melt bits of ice in your mouth, or use a saliva substitute. However, if your mouth continues to feel dry for more than 2 weeks, check with your medical doctor or dentist. Continuing dryness of the mouth may increase the chance of dental disease, including tooth decay, gum disease, and fungus infections.
Some patients who have used this medicine with ribavirin have had vomiting. If you vomit during or after your treatment, rinse your mouth out with water. This may also help prevent damage to your teeth and gums.
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.