Alpha interferon therapy can have serious side effects. Patients with certain conditions should either not be treated with interferon or else be treated with caution.


Contraindications (absolute and relative) to the use of interferon:

(1) anemia (hemoglobin < 12 g/dL in women, < 13 g/dL in men)

(2) leukopenia (WBC count < 1,500 per µL)

(3) thrombocytopenia (platelet count < 100,000 per µL)

(4) pregnancy, or a woman unable to practice contraception

(5) cirrhosis that is decompensated or which may become decompensated during therapy (absolute contraindication)

(6) major depressive illness or other severe psychiatric illness (lesser degrees of depression are not an absolute contraindication)

(7) seizure disorder

(8) poorly controlled diabetes mellitus

(9) thyroid disease (hyperthyroidism, or hypothyroidism uncorrected by thyroid hormone replacement)

(10) renal or other organ transplant recipients

(11) autoimmune disease

(12) coronary artery disease

(13) retinopathy

(14) hypertension

(15) malignant carcinoid tumors


MKSAP indicates that ribavirin-specific contraindications include anemia, lack of female contraception and coronary heart disease.


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