Interferons for Chronic Hepatitis B
What To Think About
- Interferons have several advantages over other
medicines used to treat chronic hepatitis B:
- Reference Drug resistance Opens New Window has not developed with interferon use. Resistance has developed with the use of other medicines to treat chronic HBV. Drug resistance occurs when viruses change over time and can no longer be killed by medicines that killed them in the past.
- Treatment is done for a shorter length of time than treatment with other HBV medicines. For example, treatment with an interferon may last for 16 to 48 weeks. And treatment with a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) usually lasts for years.
- Interferons have some potential disadvantages
compared to other medicines used to treat chronic hepatitis B:
- Interferons are expensive, but you usually take them for just 4 to 12 months. Other medicines may need to be taken for longer periods of time.
- They must be given as injections (shots).
- Interferons are more likely to cause side effects than are other medicines used to treat hepatitis B.
- Experts do not know if interferons are safe for pregnant women. Interferons are not considered safe for women who are breast-feeding.
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Reference Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Advice for women
If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: October 29, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Reference W. Thomas London, MD - Hepatology