Generic Name: Peginterferon alfa-2a
Drug Class: Recombinant Human Interferon Alfa
Approval Status: Approved
Generic Version Available: No
Peginterferon was the first-generation HCV treatment, and it is rarely used as a first-line treatment in the U.S. except when combined with Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) and ribavirin to treat genotype 3.
Peginterferon is an injectable medication. Pegasys needs to be refrigerated. The cure rates of PEG depend on the treatment regimen it is prescribed with, along with genotype, prior treatment and the presence of cirrhosis.
Adult Dose: PEG is injected once weekly. Pegasys is a fixed dose.
Pediatric Dose: Pegasys is approved to use in children 5 years and older. The total daily dose is usually determined by body surface.
Dosing Info: Duration of treatment and choice of drugs prescribed with peginterferon are determined by genotype, prior-treatment experience and the presence of cirrhosis. For specific treatment recommendations, see Hepatitis C Treatment-Naive Recommendations or Hepatitis C Re-treatment Recommendations.
- Many side effects are associated with peginterferon, ranging from mild to severe in intensity. Peginterferon may cause or aggravate life-threatening neuropsychiatric, autoimmune, ischemic or infectious disorders.
- Some common side effects are cough, runny nose, sore throat, depression, irritability, moodiness, anxiety, dizziness, dry mouth/skin/eyes, fatigue, weakness flu-like symptoms (chills, fever, joint and muscle aches), gastrointestinal disorders (abdominal pain, decreased appetite, diarrhea, nausea), hair loss, headache, injection site reaction, insomnia, neutropenia (low white cells), pain (back, joint, muscle), and thrombocytopenia (low platelets).
- Side effects many increase depending on which medications are prescribed with peginterferon.
- There are relatively few drug interactions associated with the use of peginterferon without ribavirin. Patients taking peginterferon and methadone need to be monitored for methadone toxicity.
- Before taking this medication, tell your medical provider and pharmacist about all the drugs, supplements and herbs you take, whether prescribed, over-the-counter or illicit.
- Potential interactions are listed at hep-druginteractions.org.
- Since peginterferon is prescribed with ribavirin, a drug that may harm fetuses, it should not be taken by pregnant women or those who are trying to become pregnant. Women of childbearing age and their male sexual partners must use two forms of birth control throughout treatment and for six months after treatment if ribavirin is prescribed.
- Since peginterferon is prescribed with ribavirin, taking while breast-feeding is not recommended.
Co-Pay Program Info: http://www.hepmag.com/basics/hepatitis-c-basics/paying-hepatitis-c-treatment
Patient Assistance Program Info: http://www.hepmag.com/basics/hepatitis-c-basics/paying-hepatitis-c-treatment
Last Reviewed: March 12, 2018