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FAQ: I had a bad reaction to interferon years ago. Is it worth taking it again?

for Veterans and the Public

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I had a bad reaction to interferon years ago. Is it worth taking it again?

Interferon has many potential side effects, and anyone who takes it will have some side effects. However, the severity of the effects will vary from patient to patient.

In general, the side effects will be similar whether a patient takes standard interferon or pegylated interferon. For new drug regimens which include interferon, the side effects will likely be present as long as interferon is used. Patients who did not tolerate interferon in the past might have the same, or even worse, side effects with a repeated attempt--however, they may be better able to anticipate their side effects and be ready to treat those as they arise. Be sure to speak to your health care provider about your previous experience with interferon when deciding whether to get treated again.

On the plus side, patients often learn ways to cope with interferon side effects the first time they take the medication, so they're better prepared to deal with them the second time around.