Peginterferon alfa-2b

Other Names: Sylatron™

About This Drug

Peginterferon alfa-2b is used to treat cancer. It is given as an injection under the skin (subcutaneously)

Possible Side Effects 

  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea
  • Decreases appetite (decreased hunger)
  • Changes in your liver function
  • Muscle pain/aching
  • Injection site reaction - you may get a rash, swelling or bruising or your skin may get red, warm, itchy or painful at the site of your infusion or injection

Note: Each of the side effects above was reported in 60% or greater of patients treated with peginterferon alfa-2b. Not all possible side effects are included above. 

Warnings and Precautions

  • Changes in the tissue of the heart, including risk of heart attack and/or abnormal heart beat. Some changes may happen that can cause your heart to have less ability to pump blood.
  • Changes in your thyroid function
  • Severe changes in your liver function, which can be life-threatening, especially if you have cirrhosis of the liver.
  • Blood sugar levels may change. If you have diabetes, changes may need to be made to your diabetes medication.
  • Blurred vision or other changes in eyesight including loss of vision
  • Severe depression and other psychiatric disorders such as mood changes, thoughts of hurting yourself or others, and suicide.

Note: Some of the side effects above are very rare. If you have concerns and/or questions, please discuss them with your medical team.  

How to Take your Medication

  • Talk to your doctor, nurse and/or pharmacist for proper preparation, dosing and administration if you are self-injecting.
  • Missed dose: If you miss a dose, contact your physician right away.
  • Handling: Wash your hands after handling your medicine, your caretakers should not handle your medicine with bare hands and should wear latex gloves.
  • Storage: Store this medicine in the refrigerator, between 36°F to 46°F (2°C to 8°C). Do not freeze. Discuss with your nurse or your doctor how to dispose of unused medicine/needles. 

Treating Side Effects

  • Manage tiredness by pacing your activities for the day.
  • Be sure to include periods of rest between energy-draining activities.
  • If you are feeling depressed, talk to your nurse or doctor about it.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (a minimum of eight glasses per day is recommended).
  • To help with nausea and vomiting, eat small, frequent meals instead of three large meals a day. Choose foods and drinks that are at room temperature. Ask your nurse or doctor about other helpful tips and medicine that is available to help or stop lessen these symptoms.
  • To help with decreased appetite, eat high caloric food such as pudding, ice cream, yogurt and milkshakes.
  • If you have diabetes, keep good control of your blood sugar level. Tell your nurse or your doctor if your glucose levels are higher or lower than normal.

Food and Drug Interactions

  • There are no known interactions of peginterferon alfa-2b with food.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist about all other prescription medicines and over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs and others) you are taking before starting this medicine as there are known drug interactions with peginterferon alfa-2b. Also, check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new prescription or over-the-counter medicines, or dietary supplements to make sure that there are no interactions.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or higher
  • Chills
  • A headache that does not go away
  • Blurred vision or other changes in eyesight
  • Feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way (palpitations)
  • Chest pain or symptoms of a heart attack. Most heart attacks involve pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. The pain may go away and come back or it can be constant. It can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Sometimes pain is felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. If any of these symptoms last 2 minutes, call 911.
  • Fatigue that interferes with your daily activities
  • Lose interest in your daily activities that you used to enjoy and feeling this way every day, and/or you feel hopelessness.
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself or others
  • Lasting loss of appetite or rapid weight loss of five pounds in a week
  • Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking and/or is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Abnormal blood sugar
  • Unusual thirst, passing urine often, headache, sweating, shakiness, irritability
  • Muscle pain/aching
  • Signs of possible liver problems: dark urine, pale bowel movements, bad stomach pain, feeling very tired and weak, unusual itching, or yellowing of the eyes or skin
  • While you are getting this drug, please tell your nurse right away if you have any pain, redness, or swelling at the site of the IV infusion
  • If you think you may be pregnant

Reproduction Warnings

  • Pregnancy warning: It is not known if this drug may harm an unborn child. For this reason, be sure to talk with your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant while receiving this drug. Let your doctor know right away if you think you may be pregnant.
  • Breastfeeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. For this reason, women should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of breastfeeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and cause harm to a breastfeeding baby.
  • Fertility warning: In men and women both, this drug may affect your ability to have children in the future. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children. Ask for information on sperm or egg banking.

Revised June 2018

This patient information was developed by Via Oncology, LLC © 2018. This information is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have.

CLIENT acknowledges that the Via Pathways and Via Portal are information management tools only, and that Via Oncology, LLC has not represented the Via Pathways or Via Portal as having the ability to diagnose disease, prescribe treatment, or perform any other tasks that constitute the practice of medicine. The clinical information contained in the Via Pathways and Via Portal are intended as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the knowledge, expertise, skill, and judgment of physicians, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals involved with patient care at CLIENT facilities.