Interferon alfa

By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor

Generic Name: Interferon alfa Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.


What is interferon alfa 2b used for?

Interferon alfa 2b is commonly used for treatment various cancers (e.g., leukemia, melanoma, AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma). It is also used to treat virus infections (e.g., chronic hepatitis B, chronic hepatitis C, condylomata acuminata).

This medication is the same as a protein that your body naturally produces (interferon). In the body, it is work by affecting cell function/growth and the body’s natural defenses (immune system) in many ways. Adding more interferon may help your body fight off cancer or virus infections.

How should I take interferon alfa 2b?

This medication is given by injection into a muscle or under the skin as directed by your doctor. Rotate the injection site each time you inject this medication to prevent soreness. It may also be given by injection into a vein or directly into a lesion, usually by a health care professional.

If you are giving this medication to yourself at home, learn all preparation and usage instructions from your health care professional. Do not shake the medication container (vial or syringe). Doing so may decrease the effectiveness of the drug. Before using, check this product visually for particles or discoloration. If either is present, do not use the liquid. Learn how to store and discard medical supplies safely. Never reuse single-use syringes or needles. It is okay to reuse the multidose pen. It is best used in the evening before bedtime to reduce side effects.

Drink plenty of fluids while using this medication unless otherwise directed by your doctor.

How do I store interferon alfa 2b?

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it in the refrigerator, but do not freeze it. Once mixed, use it immediately. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours after mixing. Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using interferon alfa 2b?

Before using interferon alfa, tell your doctor or pharmacist if:

  • You are allergic to any ingredients of this drug.
  • You have any other allergies.

This drug may make you dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Limit alcoholic beverages.

Do not have immunizations/vaccinations without the consent of your doctor, and avoid contact with people who have recently received oral polio vaccine or flu vaccine inhaled through the nose. Wash your hands well to prevent the spread of infections.

To lower your risk of getting cut, bruised, or injured, use caution with sharp objects like razors and nail cutters, and avoid activities such as contact sports.

Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).

Children may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially mental/mood changes (such as severe depression, thoughts/attempts of suicide). Interferon and ribavirin may also slow down a child’s rate of growth. Normal weight gain and rate of growth usually return after treatment is completed but the final adult height may be lower than expected. Monitor your child’s height and weight periodically during treatment.

Caution is advised when using this drug in the elderly because they may be more sensitive to the effects of the drug, especially dizziness, mental/mood changes, and effects on the heart.

Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?


Interferon alfa is not recommended for use during pregnancy. It may harm an unborn baby. Consult your doctor for more details and to discuss reliable forms of birth control.


It is not known whether this drug passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.

Side effects

What side effects can occur from interferon alfa 2b?

Some side effects may occur when using this drug, such as:

  • Injection site reactions (pain/swelling/redness)
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach
  • Loss of appetite
  • Back pain
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Taste changes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Tooth and gum problems
  • Hair loss
  • Feeling too hot or cold (more than others around you)
  • Fast/irregular heartbeat
  • Increased thirst/urination
  • Menstrual changes (absent/delayed/irregular periods)
  • Numbness/tingling of hands/feet
  • Swelling (especially of face/hands/feet)
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Trouble walking
  • Vision changes (such as blurred vision, partial loss of vision)
  • Easy bleeding/bruising
  • Stomach/abdominal pain
  • Dark urine
  • Black/tarry stools
  • Yellowing eyes/skin

Get medical help right away if any of these very serious side effects occur: chest pain, seizures, weakness on one side of the body, slurred speech.

This drug may cause you to develop serious mental/mood changes that may get worse during treatment or after your last dose. Tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms such as confusion, depression, thoughts of suicide or hurting others, unusual irritability, or aggressive behavior. If this occurs, psychiatric therapy and monitoring is recommended during and after treatment with this medication.

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.


What drugs may interact with interferon alfa 2b?

Interferon alfa 2b may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Some products that may interact with this drug include:

  • Barbiturates (e.g., phenobarbital)
  • Colchicine
  • Cancer chemotherapy
  • Aldesleukin
  • Cyclosporine
  • Hydroxyurea
  • Telbivudine
  • Theophyllines (e.g., aminophylline, theophylline)

Does food or alcohol interact with interferon alfa 2b?

Interferon alfa 2b may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with interferon alfa 2b?

Interferon alfa 2b may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.

These health conditions are:

  • Severe liver disease or autoimmune hepatitis
  • An organ transplant (surgery to replace an organ in the body)
  • Anemia (low red blood cells) or low white blood cells
  • Bleeding problems or blood clots (including a pulmonary embolism)
  • A lung disease (such as pneumonia, pulmonary arterial hypertension)
  • Eye problems
  • Surgery (including dental surgery)
  • Blood cell disorders (e.g., anemia, neutropenia, thrombocytopenia)
  • Blood clots
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease (e.g., angina, irregular heartbeat)
  • High blood pressure
  • HIV infection
  • Immune system diseases (e.g., lupus, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Intestinal disease (e.g., colitis)
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease (e.g., autoimmune hepatitis, decompensated liver disease)
  • Lung diseases (e.g., chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD, asthma, pneumonia)
  • Mental/mood disorders (e.g., anxiety, depression)
  • High blood triglyceride levels
  • Pancreatitis
  • Seizure disorder
  • Thyroid disease
  • Use/abuse of drugs/alcohol


The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using interferon alfa 2b.

What is the dose of interferon alfa 2b for an adult?

Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to therapy. Do not change the dose or how often you use this medication without your doctor’s approval. Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, use it at the same time each evening that you have a scheduled dose.


The recommended dose is three times a week.


The recommended dose is three times a week, usually for 16 weeks.

Hairy cell leukemia

The recommended dose is three times a week, for up to 6 months.

Malignant melanoma

The recommended dose is 5 consecutive days for 4 weeks, then subcutaneously three times per week for 48 weeks.

Follicular melanoma

The recommended dose is three times per week, for up to 18 months.

Genital warts

The recommended dose is three times weekly on alternate days for 3 weeks, then treatment may be continued for up to 16 weeks.

Kaposi’s sarcoma

The recommended dose is three times a week for 16 weeks.

What is the dose of interferon alfa 2b for a child?

The dosage has not been established in pediatric patients. It may be unsafe for your child. It is always important to fully understand the safety of the drug before using. Please consult with your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

How is interferon alfa 2b available?

Interferon alfa 2b is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • 8ml vial, injectable solution
  • 2ml vial, injectable solution

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of interferon alfa 2b, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: February 17, 2017 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019

You might also like