See also Warning section.
Before using interferon alfa, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients (such as albumin), which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: blood cell disorders (e.g., anemia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia), blood clots, cancer, diabetes, eye problems, heart disease (e.g., angina, irregular heartbeat), high blood pressure, HIV infection, immune system diseases (e.g., lupus, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis), intestinal disease (e.g., colitis), kidney disease, liver disease (e.g., autoimmune hepatitis, decompensated liver disease), lung diseases (e.g., chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD, asthma, pneumonia), mental/mood disorders (e.g., anxiety, depression), high blood triglyceride levels, pancreatitis, seizure disorder, thyroid disease, use/abuse of drugs/alcohol.
This drug may make you dizzy. Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness until you can do it safely. Limit alcoholic beverages. Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana (cannabis).
Do not have immunizations/vaccinations without the consent of your doctor, and avoid contact with people who have recently received oral polio vaccine or flu vaccine inhaled through the nose. Wash your hands well to prevent the spread of infections.
To lower your risk of getting cut, bruised, or injured, use caution with sharp objects like razors and nail cutters, and avoid activities such as contact sports.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Children may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially mental/mood changes (such as severe depression, thoughts/attempts of suicide). Interferon and ribavirin may also slow down a child's rate of growth. Normal weight gain and rate of growth usually return after treatment is completed but the final adult height may be lower than expected. Monitor your child's height and weight periodically during treatment.
Caution is advised when using this drug in the elderly because they may be more sensitive to the effects of the drug, especially dizziness, mental/mood changes, and effects on the heart.
During pregnancy, interferon alfa should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
Interferon alfa, when used in combination with ribavirin, must not be used during pregnancy by either the pregnant woman or her male partner. The combination may cause harm to an unborn baby. Two reliable forms of birth control (such as condoms, birth control pills) must be used whenever at least one sexual partner is using these medicines together, and for at least 6 months after stopping treatment. If you or your partner become pregnant, or if you think you or your partner may be pregnant, tell your doctor right away.
It is not known whether this drug passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.