Pegylated Interferon with Ribavirin (Pegasys RBV)

Pegylated interferon with ribavirin Pegylated Interferon with Ribavirin (Pegasys RBV) – General Information (PDF)

Targeted Genotype: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Pegylated interferon with ribavirin is an older treatment. Many treatments don’t need it anymore. It may be combined with other drugs for the treatment of hep C genotype 1. It may also be prescribed alone for hep C genotype 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6.

Approved by Health Canada and Covered by BC PharmaCare:   Yes

Treatment Description: Pegylated interferon with ribavirin is a combination of two treatments, pegylated interferon and ribavirin.

Interferons are proteins produced by the body that fight viral infections. The ones used in hep C treatments are manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. They are taken in higher doses than those which occur naturally so that they can boost a person’s immunity and stop viruses.

Ribavirin is a nucleoside analogue. Ribavirin is used in combination with other treatments, such as pegylated interferon and Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), to stop viruses from reproducing and spreading. It does this by disturbing a virus’s way of copying itself and changing a body’s immune response towards viruses. This gives a treatment the best possible chance to cure.

Pegylated interferon with ribavirin can be prescribed as a treatment on its own or as part of direct-acting antivirals combinations. See below for further combination details.

Usage Warning: Ribavirin is a drug that may harm fetuses. Tell your doctor if you may be or may become pregnant.

Dose: Once weekly pegylated interferon injection and twice daily ribavirin pills

Length of Treatment: 14 or 48 weeks depending on one’s viral load. 14 weeks if hep C is undetectable at 12 weeks of treatment

Names and Abbreviations:

Brand Name Generic Name Commonly Used Name Commonly Used Abbreviation
Ibavyr Ribavirin Ribavirin RBV*
Interferon alfa-2a Interferon INF*
Interferon alfa-2b Interferon INF
Pegasys Pegylated interferon Pegylated Interferon OR peginterferon PI*
Pegasys RBV Pegylated interferon with ribavirin Pegylated interferon with ribavirin OR peginterferon/ ribavirin OR peginterferon and ribavirin PegIFN/RBV

OR

PR*

Pegetron Ribavirin in combination with pegylated interferon alfa-2b
*Abbreviations used by the Hepatitis C Treatment Information Project

Common Side Effects of Pegylated interferon and Ribavirin:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Flulike symptoms
  • Headache
  • Muscle/joint aches
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness

Common Side Effects of Pegylated interferon:

  • Can’t Sleep
  • Depression / mood change
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Dru mouth
  • Fatigue / weakness
  • Fever
  • Flulike / Cold like symptoms
  • Hair loss
  • Headache
  • Low platelets (thrombocytopenia)
  • Low white cells (neutropenia)
  • Muscle / joint / back aches
  • Nausea
  • Stomach issues
  • Tiredness

Common Side Effects of Ribavirin:

  • Anemia, hemolytic (low red cells)
  • Dizziness / lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Increased heart rate
  • Insomnia
  • Itchy / dry skin
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood issues (anxiety, depression, irritability, moodiness)
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Taste changes
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Upset stomach (dyspepsia)
  • Weakness

Other side effects may also occur while on pegylated interferon and ribavirin. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.

Direct-Acting Antivirals Commonly Prescribed with Pegylated Interferon for Genotype 1:

BC’s PharmaCare Eligibility for Pegylated Interferon with Ribavirin

Pegylated interferon with ribavirin is a limited coverage drug accessed through Special Authority request, usually by a specialist.

Taken alone pegylated interferon is BC PharmaCare covered for patients with chronic hep C genotype 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 :

For the treatment of chronic hepatitis C genotype 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 in:

  • treatment-naïve patients with no cirrhosis or with compensated cirrhosis. Compensated cirrhosis is defined as cirrhosis with a Child Pugh Score=A (5-6).

AND

Who meet ALL of the following:

  • Prescribed by a gastroenterologist or an infectious disease specialist or other physicians experienced with treating hepatitis C
  • Lab-confirmed hepatitis C genotype 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6
  • Patient has a quantitative HCV RNA value within the last 6 months
  • Fibrosis stage F2 or greater (Metavir scale or equivalent). Acceptable methods include liver biopsy, transient elastography (FibroScan®) and serum biomarker panels (such as AST-to-Platelet Ratio Index (APRI) or Fibrosis-4 (FIB-4) score) either alone or in combination.
  • Re-treatment requests will NOT be considered.

Talk to your healthcare provider for more information about hep C treatments and the treatment process.

PEGAssist Patient Support Program

Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. offers the PEGAssist Patient Support Program for people who have been prescribed pegylated interferon with ribavirin (Pegasys RBV) as part of their hepatitis C treatment. For more information, contact your doctor, nurse, or call the program at: 1-877-734-2797.