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
|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
|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:
- Flulike symptoms
- Muscle/joint aches
Common Side Effects of Pegylated interferon:
- Can’t Sleep
- Depression / mood change
- Dru mouth
- Fatigue / weakness
- Flulike / Cold like symptoms
- Hair loss
- Low platelets (thrombocytopenia)
- Low white cells (neutropenia)
- Muscle / joint / back aches
- Stomach issues
Common Side Effects of Ribavirin:
- Anemia, hemolytic (low red cells)
- Dizziness / lightheadedness
- Increased heart rate
- Itchy / dry skin
- Loss of appetite
- Mood issues (anxiety, depression, irritability, moodiness)
- Shortness of breath
- Taste changes
- Trouble concentrating
- Upset stomach (dyspepsia)
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).
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.