What Are the Side Effects of Peginterferon Treatment?

Pegasys Solution (180 mcg/mL) from Roche Pharmaceuticals. Image courtesy of A-Z Drugs

Question: What Are the Side Effects of Peginterferon Treatment?

Answer: Peginterferon (also known as Pegasys or PegIntron) is a drug that treats chronic hepatitis infection (hepatitis C, hepatitis B). Even though peginterferon closely resembles a natural protein that your body uses to fight infection (interferon alpha), you will probably experience side effects from treatment. Here are the most common side effects from taking peginterferon:

  • Flu-like symptoms. This is a collection of familiar symptoms that include a headache, fever, chills, and muscle aches.
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Depression and other changes in your mood. You should take extra precautions if you have had depression in the past and are taking peginterferon. Most side effects can be controlled with antidepressants or other medicines, but it's important to respond quickly to any behavioral change.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Skin rashes
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss

Some people may experience more side effects. Here is an extensive list of side effects from peginterferon treatment.

As noted above, peginterferon can treat both hepatitis B and C. However, in the United States, doctors rarely use peginterferon to treat hepatitis B, choosing, instead, other treatment options. For hepatitis C, doctors nearly always combine peginterferon with ribavirin for the best treatment.


Package Insert for Pegasys. http://www.fda.gov/CDER/foi/label/2002/pegihof101602LB.htm

Pegasys Information. http://www.rocheusa.com/products/pegasys/pi.pdf

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