Interferon gamma (Injection)

Interferon gamma-1b injection is a man-made single-chain polypeptide containing 140 amino acids that mimics the naturally produced substance in the body that is used to fight tumors and infections.

Overview

Interferon gamma-1b injection is nearly the same protein the human body makes to naturally fight infections. Interferon gamma injections are used to lessen the frequency and severity of infections caused by CGD (chronic granulomatous disease). This medication may also be used to slow the progression of SMO (severe malignant osteopetrosis). The most common brand name for this medication on the market today is Actimmune.

When taken correctly as part of an overall therapy for chronic granulomatous disease (CGD), interferon gamma-1b can help protect people from serious infections, decreasing the risk of furthering severity, as well as time spent in the hospital. In the treatment of severe malignant osteopetrosis (SMO), when taken properly, interferon gamma-1b works to slow the progression and worsening of the disease by changing how some cells in the body react. It is not known how exactly iterferon gamma works to do this.

Patients should fully disclose personal medical history, particularly when it involves history of any of the following medical problems:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Heart disease
  • Blood clots
  • Nervous system problems
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Seizure disorders

This medication is typically administered at home by the patient, or in office by a physician. This medication is a clear, sterile, colorless solution in a syringe with a needle. The syringes are intended for single-use and should be disposed of, in a proper sharps container away from children and pets, after use. This medication should never be mixed with another injectable. It is important that the user alternates injection sites between their upper arm and thigh between uses and does not repeatedly use the same site. If a dose is missed, continue the next dose at your normal time. Consumers of interferon gamma should never double doses.

Interferon gamma commonly causes flu-like reactions with aching muscles, fevers, chills, and headaches. This medication may also temporarily render the user more susceptible to infections because it may lower the number of white blood cells in the body. The number of platelets may also decrease, making it difficult for blood to properly clot. It is important users take precaution to avoid risks of infections or bleeding while on this medication by following some of these steps:

  • Avoid people with infections
  • Check with your doctor immediately if you present fever, chills, cough, hoarseness, lower back pain, or difficulty urinating
  • Take particular care when using a toothpick, brushing teeth, or flossing to avoid bleeding in the mouth
  • Do not touch inside of the eyes or nose without thoroughly washing hands before and after to prevent exposure to germs
  • Take special care when using sharp objects on the body like razors or clippers.

Patients should report to their doctor right away if they experience any tenderness or pain in the upper stomach, pale stools, dark urine, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or yellow eyes and/or skin. These symptoms may allude to liver problems. The stopper used in the vials of this medication is typically made of natural rubber. It is important to tell your doctor if you are allergic to latex before use of this medication.

While on this medication, and after patients have stopped using this medication, it is important not to take any vaccinations without the doctor's approval. As this medication may lower the bodies ability to fight off a virus and this may cause the patient to become ill with the virus the vaccine is meant to prevent.

Conditions Treated

  • Chronic granulomatous disease (CGD)
  • Severe malignant osteopetrosis (SMO)
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
  • Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma

Type Of Medicine

  • Immunological agent

Side Effects

As with any medication, users must be on the lookout for any signs of an allergic reaction while using interferon gamma. Some signs of more serious allergic reactions are; swelling of the hands/face, swelling of the tongue/gums or lips, swelling of the throat, rashes, hives, vomiting, abdominal pain, or difficulty breathing. If any consumers taking interferon gamma experience these side effects, users must seek emergency medical assistance immediately.

Interferon gamma injections may cause some serious side-effects. It is vital that all patients using this medication take note of their side-effects and contact their prescribing physician immediately if any of the following symptoms occur.

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Body Aches
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Feeling light-headed
  • Fainting
  • Fast or uneven heart rate
  • Sudden numbness or weakness (particularly on one side of the body)

Patients taking interferon gamma injections have also reported some less serious side effects. As with any side effect, it is important to discuss these symptoms with your physician and weigh the risks versus benefits of each patient and their use of this medication. Some of these less serious side effects are:

  • Black, tarry stools
  • Bleeding gums
  • Blood in the urine or stools
  • Confusion
  • Cough or hoarseness
  • Loss of balance control
  • Lower back or side pain
  • Mask-like face
  • Painful or difficult urination
  • Pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • Shuffling walk
  • Sore throat
  • Stiffness of arms or legs
  • Trembling and shaking of the hands and fingers
  • Trouble breathing
  • Trouble speaking or swallowing
  • Trouble thinking or concentrating
  • Trouble walking
  • Ulcers, sores, or white spots in the mouth
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness

This is not an all-inclusive list of the possible side effects of interferon gamma injection. Any side effects that present should be reported to a physician immediately. For any questions about whether a symptom could be linked to this medication, refer to your physician or pharmacist. If the patient experiences any side effects not listed above, they're encouraged to report the side effects to the FDA by calling 1-800-FDA-1088.

Dosage

It's very important to inject interferon gamma only as prescribed by a physician. The dosage levels listed here are only what is recommended, your exact dose may vary. Information on this site is not a substitute for medical advice. Those on interferon gamma should not take more of the drug that is prescribed, in either dose or frequency. This medication should also be stopped when prescribed by a doctor, even if you still have a supply of the medication.

The recommended dosage of interferon gamma-1b for the treatment of patients with chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) and severe malignant osteopetrosis (SMO) is 50 micrograms (also measured as one million international units) three times per week. Typically recommended to be taken on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

The recommended dosage of interferon gamma-1b for the treatment of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is 200 micrograms three times a week, typically recommended to be taken on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. This dosage is typically taken in combination with 7.5 mg of prednisolone for a duration of one year.

The recommended dosage of interferon gamma-1b for the treatment of patients with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is two million international units daily for 14 days. This treatment injects the interferon gamma through an IV.

If severe reactions occur, such as flu-like symptoms, contact your doctor immediately because you may be in danger of an overdose. In the case of adverse reactions to this drug, physicians may decrease dose by 50% until the reaction subsides, or may discontinue therapy.

During the duration of treatment with this drug, it's recommended that patients receive the following laboratory tests at three-month intervals:

  • Hematologic tests including complete blood counts, platelet, and differential blood counts
  • Urinalysis to monitor renal health
  • Blood chemistries to monitor renal and liver function. For pediatric patients under one year of age, liver function tests should be performed monthly.

The recommended injection sites for this medication is the right and left deltoid, located on the outside of the upper arm, and anterior thigh, located on the top and to the outside of the thigh. Injections may be administered by a physician, nurse, trained family member, or adult patients when properly counseled on how to administer subcutaneous injections.

The studies of interferon gamma concluded to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would impede the usefulness of this medication to treat CGD in children 1 year of age or older, as well as treating SMO in children 1 month old and older. However, the risks and efficiency of treating CHD in children younger than one year of age, and SMO in newborns, have not yet been established.

Current studies of this medication have not demonstrated any problems in treating geriatric patients. However, because elderly patients are more likely to have age-related kidney, heart or liver problems geriatric patients do require more precaution and oversight when using interferon gamma injection.

Major Drug Interactions

Medications in any form interact with other medications in the human body, which can potentially alter the intended effects of the drug. Adverse interactions can even render some medications ineffective or potentially dangerous to the patient. It's important to keep physicians updated on all current and periodic (PRN) medications, including medications that are over-the-counter, not prescribed.

Below is a list of major drugs known to interact negatively with interferon gamma injections. If a patient is already on one of these medications, they should consult their doctor. If they are prescribed one of these medications, they should alert the physician that they are on interferon gamma-1b. These are types of medications and include a broad range of brand names and medication types. Consult a physician about specific drug interactions.

  • Myelosuppressive agents
  • Medications with neurotoxic, hematoxic, or cardiotoxic effects
  • Immunological preparations (e.g. vaccines)

Warnings

Do not use interferon gamma injection if you are allergic to the medication or any products made from the E. Coli bacteria. Also, before using interferon gamma it is important to fully disclose all of your personal medical history, as well as the medical history of your immediate family, particularly when it involves history of congestive heart failure, heart disease, blood clots, nervous system problems, kidney disease, liver disease, epilepsy, or any other seizure disorders. If any of the aforementioned medical problems have occurred in your history, or the history of your family, you may be asked to complete tests more frequently to ensure safe medical application of interferon gamma.

Interferon gamma is typically given three times a week, it is vital that patients do not exceed dose or frequency without a doctors suggestion and supervision. It may be required for a patient using interferon gamma to have their blood tested regularly. It is important that any consumers requested to complete regular blood work attend these appointments regularly to ensure this medication is not causing any negative side effects on the body's blood levels.

The FDA has regulated interferon gamma as a category 'œC' medication indicating that it may be harmful to an unborn baby. It is vital that any patient who may be pregnant, may become pregnant during the duration of the treatment, or may be nursing an infant disclose this information to their medical practitioner. It is not known if interferon gamma will pass through breast milk to an infant as of now. Sufficient testing has not been completed to ensure the safety of an infant in this situation.

This medication is designed for use as an injection under the skin of the upper arm or thigh. It is important that any user of this medication understand the instructions given for how to properly inject this medication. Improper injection of this interferon gamma may impede the bodies ability to absorb the medication properly. It is advised this medication should never be injected into the same site two times in a row. Patients should alternate injection sites between the upper arm and thigh to avoid overuse of one site.

Storage

Each needle is disposable and should only be used once. Used needles should be disposed of in a sharps container that is out of reach of children and pets. Do not shake the medication vial before injection. Shaking this medication may ruin it. If any medication has changed colors, or has particles floating in the liquid, call a doctor for a new prescription.

Interferon gamma is a medication that requires refrigeration storage. This medication should not be allowed to freeze at any point. If any of the interferon gamma medication does freeze, it should be disposed of. If any medication has been out of the refrigerator for more than 12 hours, this medication should be disposed of as well, and not placed back into the refrigerator.

When a patient's interferon gamma therapy has ended, they should dispose of the remaining supply. Any unused medication may be properly disposed of by returning the unused portion to the doctor's office, local clinic, local pharmacy, fire department, or police station.

As with all prescribed medications, it is vital this medication is not shared with other people even if they suffer from the same symptoms as it may be fatal if not taken properly, supervised, or mixed with other medications. It's also vital that the unused medication is disposed of properly, as it may pose a risk to others if disposed of and unsecured.

Summary

Interferon gamma-1b injection is a man-made drug that mimics the naturally produced substance in the body used to fight tumors and infections. This medication is used to lessen the frequency and severity of infections caused by CGD (chronic granulomatous disease). This medication may also be used to slow the progression of SMO (severe malignant osteopetrosis).

Interferon gamma has the potential to be a dangerous medication if patients have a medical history of, (or predisposition to) heart failure, heart disease, liver failure, blood clots, or seizure disorder. Patients taking this medication will need to submit to regular blood work to ensure blood levels remain in the normal range during the duration of interferon gamma use.

This medication requires refrigerated storage. If any of the interferon gamma medication does freeze, it should be disposed of. If any medication has been out of the refrigerator for more than 12 hours, this medication should be disposed of as well, and not placed back into the refrigerator. All needles should be disposed of after each use into a proper sharps container. If the solution in the syringe is discolored, or has particles floating inside, users should consult with their physicians for a new prescription as this may be a sign of expired, or otherwise tainted medication.

It is common for users of interferon gamma injections to experience flu-like symptoms after use. This medication will increase the risk of infection so users should take special precaution to avoid germs and bacteria during use. Interferon gamma may impede the bodies ability to form blood clots, so users should take precaution to avoid injury that may result in bleeding as well, particularly during oral hygiene care.