Safety profile of interferon-alpha therapy

Two forms of recombinant interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha2a and

IFN-alpha2b) have been approved by the Food and Drug

Administration for a variety of clinical indications,

including hairy cell leukemia, hepatitis, acquired

immunodeficiency syndrome-related Kaposi’s sarcoma, chronic

myelogenous leukemia (IFN-alpha2a only), and adjuvant therapy

for melanoma (IFN-alpha2b only), based on their proven

clinical efficacy and acceptable safety profiles. The

continued postmarketing monitoring of adverse reactions

associated with IFN-alpha therapy has revealed some new

toxicities. The most common adverse events associated with

IFN- alpha therapy are flu-like symptoms, fatigue, anorexia,

and central nervous system and psychiatric reactions. In

particular, the incidence of depression has only recently been

fully appreciated. Some of these side effects, particularly

chronic fatigue, anorexia, and neuropsychiatric reactions, may

become dose limiting. New approaches to minimize and manage

the side effects of IFN-alpha therapy are needed.

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