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This medication is used to keep malignant melanoma (a type of skin cancer) from coming back after it has been removed by surgery. This medication is the same as a protein that your body naturally makes (interferon). This medication is thought to work by affecting how cells work and grow and by affecting the body's natural defenses (immune system) in many ways. Adding more interferon may help your body fight off cancer.
Read the Medication Guide and the Instructions for Use Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start using peginterferon alfa-2b and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
If you are giving this medication to yourself at home, learn all preparation and usage instructions from your health care professional. Gently swirl the vial to dissolve the medication. Do not shake the vial. Before using, check this product visually for particles or discoloration. If either is present, do not use the liquid. Learn how to store and discard medical supplies safely.
Before injecting each dose, clean the injection site with rubbing alcohol. Use a different place each time you give yourself an injection to help lessen injection site soreness.
Inject this medication under the skin (subcutaneously) on your thigh, stomach, or the outer surface of your upper arm, as directed by your doctor, usually once weekly. Do not inject near the belly button or at the waistline.
The dosage is based on your body weight, medical condition, and response to treatment.
Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. Remember to use it on the same day each week. It may help to mark your calendar with a reminder.
If you have flu-like symptoms, drink plenty of fluids while you are using this medication, unless your doctor directs you otherwise.
See also Warning section.
Flu-like symptoms (such as fever, chills, muscle/joint aches, fatigue, headache, nausea, stomach pain) may occur. If instructed to do so, taking pain/fever-reducing medications (such as acetaminophen) or injecting this medication at bedtime may help reduce some of these flu-like symptoms. Dry mouth, bad taste in mouth, increased sweating, loss of appetite, weight loss, trouble sleeping, dizziness, diarrhea, vomiting, dry skin, or redness/swelling at the injection site may also occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Tooth and gum problems may sometimes occur during treatment. Having a dry mouth can worsen this side effect. Prevent dry mouth by drinking plenty of water or using a saliva substitute. Brush your teeth well at least twice a day and have regular dental exams. If you experience vomiting during treatment, rinse your mouth afterwards to lessen the chance of tooth and gum problems.
Temporary hair loss may occur. Normal hair growth should return after treatment has ended.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: persistent sore throat or fever, easy or unusual bleeding/bruising, unusually severe fatigue, increased thirst/urination, severe stomach pain with nausea/vomiting, bloody diarrhea.
Get medical help right away if you have any serious side effects, including: chest/jaw/left arm pain, unusually slow/fast/pounding heartbeat, vision changes (such as blurred vision, partial loss of vision).
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
Before using peginterferon alfa-2b, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to polyethylene glycol (PEG); or to other interferons; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, 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: kidney disease, liver disease, mental/mood disorders (such as depression), history of drug/alcohol abuse, thyroid disease, diabetes, eye problems, inflammation of the bowels (such as colitis), pancreatitis, high blood triglyceride levels.
This drug may make you dizzy. Alcohol or marijuana 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.
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).
This medication is not recommended for use during pregnancy because of possible serious harm to the unborn baby. Consult your doctor for more details and to discuss reliable forms of birth control. If you become pregnant or think you may be pregnant, inform your doctor right away.
It is unknown if this drug passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Consult the product instructions and your pharmacist for storage details. Keep all medications away from children and pets.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.
Some products that may interact with this drug include: hydroxyurea, telbivudine.
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
If you miss a dose, use it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Do not share this medication with others.
Laboratory and/or medical tests (such as blood counts, thyroid tests, kidney/liver function, triglyceride levels, eye exams) should be performed before you start treatment, periodically to monitor your progress, or to check for side effects. Depending on your medical history, other tests (such as EKG) may be needed. Ask your doctor for more details.
Do not change brands of interferon without checking with your doctor or pharmacist. Other interferons may not have the same effects on your disease.