About your treatment
Your doctor has ordered interferon alfacon-1 to help treat your hepatitis C infection. The drug will be injected under your skin (subcutaneously) three times a week. Your healthcare provider will show you what to do.
Interferon alfacon-1 is a synthetic interferon that helps to prevent the hepatitis C virus from growing inside your body. This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Your healthcare provider (doctor, nurse, or pharmacist) may measure the effectiveness and side effects of your treatment using laboratory tests and physical examinations. It is important to keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. The length of treatment depends on how you respond to the medication.
Before administering interferon alfacon-1,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to interferon alfacon-1, alfa interferons, E. coli-derived products, or any other drugs.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, including carbamazepine (Tegretol); chloramphenicol (Chlormycetin); medications that contain gold (auranofin [Ridaura], aurothioglucose [(Solganol]); medications that suppress your immune system, such as chemotherapy agents; penicillamine (Cuprimine, Depen); phenylbutazone; phenytoin (Dilantin); sulfa drugs; thyroid medications; zidovudine (Retrovir); and vitamins or herbal products.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had heart, liver, or autoimmune disease; a recent organ transplant; depression or psychiatric illness; blood disorders; diabetes; thyroid problems; high blood pressure; or vision problems.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while using interferon alfacon-1, call your doctor.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are using interferon alfacon-1.
Administering your medication
Before you administer interferon alfacon-1, look at the solution closely. It should be clear and free of floating material. Observe the solution container to make sure there are no leaks. Do not use the solution if it is discolored or if it contains particles. Use a new solution, but show the damaged one to your healthcare provider.
It is important that you use your medication exactly as directed. Do not stop your therapy on your own for any reason because your infection may worsen and result in hospitalization. Do not administer it more often than or for longer periods than your doctor tells you. Do not change your dosing schedule without talking to your healthcare provider.
Interferon alfacon-1 may cause side effects. Interferon alfacon-1 sometimes causes a flu-like reaction, including chills, headache, fever, muscle pain, sweating, and joint pain. The effects should become less severe and less frequent as you continue your therapy.
Tell your healthcare provider if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- pain and irritation at site of injection
- difficulty sleeping
- stomach pain
- body aches
If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- vision changes
- difficulty breathing
- swelling of the face, eyelids, lips, or neck
- hives or rash
- chest pain
- chest pressure or heaviness
- depression and thoughts of suicide
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- fast or irregular heartbeats
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].
Storing your medication
Your healthcare provider will probably give you a several-day supply of interferon alfacon-1 at a time. You will be told to store it in the refrigerator and to protect it from light.
Take your dose from the refrigerator 1 hour before using it; place it in a clean, dry area to allow it to warm to room temperature.
Do not allow interferon alfacon-1 to freeze; do not vigorously shake the vials. Store your medication only as directed. Make sure you understand what you need to store your medication properly.
Keep your supplies in a clean, dry place when you are not using them, and keep all medications and supplies out of the reach of children. Your healthcare provider will tell you how to throw away used needles, syringes, tubing, and containers to avoid accidental injury.
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
Signs of infection
You should be aware of the symptoms of infection. If you experience any of these effects near the site where you administer your interferon alfacon-1, tell your healthcare provider as soon as possible: