What Is Peginterferon Alfa-2a Used For?

How Does This Medication Work?

Peginterferon alfa-2a is a manufactured version of interferon and is almost identical to a naturally occurring human interferon. Interferons are naturally occurring proteins or glycoproteins (proteins attached to carbohydrates). In humans, interferons are produced by cells in response to certain situations, such as viral infections, and often play a key role in the immune system.
When given as medications, interferons do not last very long in the body. To get around this problem, peginterferon alfa-2a was made by attaching each interferon to a molecule of polyethylene glycol. This makes the medication last much longer, allowing for once-a-week dosing. Because peginterferon alfa-2a is a protein, it would be broken down and destroyed by the digestive system if taken by mouth. For this reason, this drug must be injected to bypass the digestive tract.
Peginterferon alfa-2a works to fight hepatitis B and C by activating the body's own response to viruses.

Can Children Use Peginterferon Alfa-2a?

Peginterferon alfa-2a is approved for children as young as five years old for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. When treating chronic hepatitis B, this drug is approved only for use in adults age 18 and older. Talk with your child's healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of using this medicine in children.

Are There Off-Label Reasons to Use It?

On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend this medicine for something other than hepatitis B or C. This is called an "off-label" use. Peginterferon alfa-2a and other similar medications have been used in clinical trials to treat various forms of cancer, so it is conceivable that this medication might be prescribed as part of cancer treatment in an off-label fashion.

Peginterferon Alfa-2a Information

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