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Interferon Alfa-2b


Brand names:

Intron A®

Other names:

INF-alpha 2

Often used for:

Melanoma, Leukemia, Lymphoma, Hepatitis

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What is Interferon Alfa-2b?

Interferon alfa-2b is a type of medicine called immunotherapy. It uses the patient’s immune system to attack the cancer cells.

Patients will have regular blood draws to check blood counts and monitor liver and kidney function. Patients may also be monitored for eye problems and changes in mood or behavior.

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May be given as a liquid into a vein by IV

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May be given as a liquid under the skin (subcutaneous)


May be given as a liquid injected into a muscle

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Possible Side Effects

  • Flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, aches)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Chest pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash, itching
  • Change in taste
  • Low blood counts (may cause increased risk of infection, bleeding, anemia and/or fatigue)
  • Liver problems
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Bloating, swelling
  • Constipation
  • Pain, bruising, or swelling at the injection site
  • Hair loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in mood (depression, irritability, anxiety) or behavior
  • Confusion or trouble thinking
  • Eye problems or vision changes

Not all patients who take interferon alfa-2b will experience these side effects. Common side effects are in bold, but there may be others. Please report all suspected side effects to your doctor or pharmacist.

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Tips for Families

Be sure to discuss these and other recommendations with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Interferon alfa-2b comes in different strengths. Keep a record of dose instructions and note any changes in dose.
  • While taking interferon alfa-2b, it is important to drink plenty of fluids. Follow the care team’s instructions for appropriate fluid intake.
  • Interferon alfa-2b may affect blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes.
  • Patients should avoid drinking alcohol while on this medicine.
  • Sexually active patients should take steps to prevent pregnancy during treatment. Discuss with your doctor or pharmacist when it would be safe to become pregnant.
  • Patients should tell their doctor if they are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Caregivers should follow instructions for safe handling and disposal of the medicine and avoid contact with patient body fluids. Patient body fluids can contain the drug for 48 hours after it is given.

Interferon Alfa-2b at home:

  • Your care team may recommend ibuprofen (Advil®) or acetaminophen (Tylenol®) to help prevent flu-like symptoms.
  • This medicine may make you dizzy or drowsy and may increase the risk of falls. Do not drive or do anything that could be dangerous until you see how this medicine affects you.
  • A nurse will teach you how to give the injection.
  • The medicine may come in liquid form or as a powder to be mixed with sterile water. Follow the instructions given by the doctor or pharmacist.
  • Store interferon alfa-2b in the refrigerator.
  • Before giving a dose of interferon alfa-2b, take it out of the refrigerator about an hour before and let it warm to room temperature.
  • Do not shake the vial. Bubbles make it hard to withdraw the correct dose.
  • Interferon alfa-2b should always be a clear, colorless liquid. Do not use if the liquid looks cloudy, changes color, or has flakes or specks in it.
  • Do not reuse syringes, needles, or vials. Throw away needles in needle disposal box (sharps container).
  • Give a missed dose as soon as possible. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the dose. Do not give 2 doses at the same time.
  • Do not use the medicine past the expiration date.
  • Follow instructions for safe storage and disposal.