Generic Name: interferon-beta-1a, Injectable Solution

Generic Name:

interferon-beta-1a, Injectable Solution

Avonex,Rebif,Rebif Rebidose

All Brands

  • Avonex
  • Rebif
  • Rebif Rebidose
SECTION 1 of 4

Highlights for interferon-beta-1a

Injectable Solution
1

Interferon beta-1a is used for relapsing multiple sclerosis. It may slow down the disease’s progression and decrease episodes of weakness, numbness, or loss of muscle coordination.

2

This is an injected medication. Your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist will show you how to use the injection properly.

3

Common side effects include flu-like symptoms, such as muscle aches, fever, tiredness, and chills. Taking a pain or fever reducer, such as acetaminophen, on the days you take the drug can help prevent some of these side effects.

4

Stay safe and prevent harm to others by disposing of your syringe and needles in a puncture-resistant container.

5

It’s important to store this medication in the refrigerator to help prevent breakdown of the drug. If you can’t refrigerate it, you can store it safely at a temperature of 77ºF or less for up to seven days.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

May cause depression

Interferon beta 1-a may cause depression or suicidal thoughts. Call your doctor right away if you experience:

  • feelings of hopelessness, dread, or anxiety
  • an urge to harm yourself or others 

May cause liver problems

Your doctor may monitor your liver function while you take this medication. Report symptoms of liver problems to your doctor. Symptoms may include:

  • dark-colored urine
  • light-colored stools
  • yellowing of your skin or eyes (jaundice)
  • bleeding more easily than normal

May worsen heart conditions

Some people have experienced heart trouble while taking this drug. If you have a heart condition, such as heart failure, your doctor may want to monitor your condition more closely before and during your treatment.

May decrease blood cells

In some cases, people taking this drug have had low blood cell numbers. Your doctor may do blood tests while you take this drug to check your blood cell numbers.

May cause thyroid disorders

Some people who have taken this drug have experience high or low thyroid hormone levels. Your doctor may want to do blood tests to measure your thyroid hormone levels while taking this drug.

Drug Features

Interferon beta-1a is a prescription drug.

It is available in these self-injectable forms: Intramuscular injection single-use vial, Intramuscular injection prefilled syringe, Intramuscular injection prefilled auto-injector syringe, Subcutaneous injection prefilled syringe, Subcutaneous injection auto-injector syringe.

It is a self-injectable drug.

Why It's Used

Interferon beta-1a is used for relapsing forms multiple sclerosis. It’s used to slow the progression of the disease and decrease the number of flare-ups.

More Details

How It Works

Multiple sclerosis is the result of an overactive immune system that causes inflammation and damage to the protective covering of your nerves.

More Details

Why It's Used

Interferon beta-1a is used for relapsing forms multiple sclerosis. It’s used to slow the progression of the disease and decrease the number of flare-ups. Symptoms of a flare-up include:

  • muscle weakness
  • problems with coordination or balance
  • vision disturbances
  • problems with thinking and memory

How It Works

Multiple sclerosis is the result of an overactive immune system that causes inflammation and damage to the protective covering of your nerves. This leads to the symptoms you experience. Interferon beta-1a works by decreasing the body's ability to produce chemicals that cause inflammation and the destruction of your nerve cells.

SECTION 2 of 4

interferon-beta-1a Side Effects

Injectable Solution

Most Common Side Effects

The most common side effects that occur with interferon beta-1a include:

  • headache

  • flu-like symptoms, including:

    • chills
    • fever
    • weakness
    • nausea
    • muscle aches and pains
    • joint pains
  • reactions at the site of injection, including:

    • redness
    • pain
    • itching
    • swelling
    • warmth
    • rash
  • muscle pain

  • depression

  • nausea

  • dizziness

Taking a pain or fever reducer, such as acetaminophen, on the days you take the drug can help prevent some of these side effects.

Mild side effects may disappear within a few days or a couple of weeks. If your side effects are more severe or don’t disappear, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

If you experience any of these serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms are potentially life threatening, or you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency call 9-1-1:

  • symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, including:

    • trouble breathing
    • swelling of your throat or tongue
    • hives
  • symptoms of liver problems, including:

    • yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
    • dark urine
    • bleeding that happens more easily
    • tiredness
    • loss of appetite
    • stomach upset or pain
  • depression or thoughts of hurting yourself or others

  • seizures

  • symptoms of a heart condition, including:

    • shortness of breath
    • fatigue and weakness
    • chest pain or irregular heart beat
    • swelling or edema around your legs, ankles, or feet
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Interferon beta-1a does not cause drowsiness.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 4

interferon-beta-1a May Interact with Other Medications

Injectable Solution

Interferon beta-1a may interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. That’s why your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. If you’re curious about how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: You can reduce your chances of drug interactions by having all your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. That way, a pharmacist can check for possible drug interactions. Be sure to mention all over the counter products you may be taking.

Alcohol Interaction

This medication may interact with alcohol. Drinking alcohol while taking this medication increases your risk of liver damage. Tell your doctor if you drink alcohol before taking this medication.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

People with liver problems

If you have any type of liver problem, let your doctor know. Your doctor may do certain tests to decide if interferon beta-1a is right for you. They may still prescribe it and carefully monitor you for side effects.

People with depression, mental illness

Interferon beta-1a may cause or worsen your depression or change your mood or behavior. If you have a history of depression, let your doctor know.

People with heart conditions

It isn’t known if interferon beta-1a has a direct effect on your heart. Some people who had no history of heart problems developed heart muscle problems or heart failure after taking this medication. If you already have any type of heart problem, interferon beta-1a may worsen this problem. If you have a heart problem, talk to your doctor about using this medication. They may still prescribe the medication with careful monitoring.

Pregnant women

Interferon beta-1a is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus.

Speak with your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Interferon beta-1a should only be used during pregnancy if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Women who are nursing

Interferon beta-1a may pass into breast milk. Even though the amount is likely small, the nursing infant could potentially experience serious side effects from the drug.  You and your doctor should decide if you will take the drug or breastfeed.

For Seniors

There isn’t enough information to show if interferon beta 1-a is safe or effective in people aged 65 years and older.

For Children

The safety and effectiveness of interferon beta-1a in children younger than 18 years hasn’t been established.

Allergies

Don’t take this drug if you’ve taken it before and had a serious allergic reaction to it. Also, don’t take it if you’ve had a serious allergic reaction to interferon beta, albumin, or if you’re sensitive to hamster protein. Taking this drug if you have had a reaction to it previously could result in a serious, potentially fatal, reaction.

Symptoms of allergic reaction may include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your face, eyes, lips, tongue, throat
  • hives
SECTION 4 of 4

How to Take interferon-beta-1a (Dosage)

Injectable Solution

All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your dose, form, and how often you take it will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What Are You Taking This Medication For?

Multiple sclerosis (MS)

Brand: Avonex

Form: Powder vial and Prefilled syringe
Strength: 30 mcg powder vial and 30 mcg prefilled syringe
Adult Dosage (ages 18-64 years)

Intramuscular injection

  • The recommended dose is 30 micrograms taken once per week.
  • The dose is typically increased to the full dose over a period of four weeks. This reduces your chance of side effects, such as flu-like symptoms.

Subcutaneous injection

  • The recommended dose depends on the individual person. It ranges from 22 micrograms to 44 micrograms taken three times per week.
  • The dose is typically increased to the full dose over a period of four weeks. This reduces your chance of side effects, such as flu-like symptoms.
Child Dosage (ages 0-17 years)

This medicine has not been studied in children and should not be used in children under the age of 18 years.

Senior Dosage (ages 65 years and older)

There are no specific recommendations for senior dosing. Older adults may process drugs more slowly. A normal adult dose may cause levels of the drug to be higher than normal. If you’re a senior, you may need a lower dose or you may need a different schedule.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Interferon beta-1a comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If You Don’t Take It at All

Your multiple sclerosis can worsen over time. Multiple sclerosis is active in your body and can damage your nervous system even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms. Taking this drug can help slow the damage.

If You Miss a Dose

It’s important to take all of your doses at the right times to keep the same amount of the drug in your system every day. Missing doses or not taking it as scheduled can change the amount of the drug in your body from one day to the next, making it less effective.

If You Stop Taking It

Taking this drug helps to slow the damage that multiple sclerosis does to your nervous system. Stopping the drug allows the damage to happen more quickly.

What to Do if You Miss a Dose

If you miss a dose of the intramuscular injection:

Take your next dose as soon as you remember. Continue your regular schedule the following week. Don’t take two injections within 48 hours of each other.

If you miss a dose of the subcutaneous injection:

Take your next dose as soon as you remember and continue your regular schedule. If your next dose is due within the next 48 hours, call your doctor for instructions on what to do. Don’t take two doses at the same time.

How Can I Tell if the Drug is Working?

You may be able to tell that interferon beta-1a is working if you experience a decrease in flare-ups.

Interferon beta-1a is a long term treatment.

Store in the refrigerator but don’t freeze

Intramuscular injection:

Store in the refrigerator but don’t freeze. Don’t store this form above 77°F.

If you can’t refrigerate the vial form, you can store the vials at 77°F (25ºC) for up to 30 days. After mixing the medication, use the solution right away. If not used right away, store it in the refrigerator and use it within six hours.

If you can’t refrigerate the pen or prefilled syringe forms, you can store them at a temperature up to 77°F (25ºC) for up to 7 days.

Keep it away from light, and do not use it past the expiration date.

Subcutaneous injection:

Store in the refrigerator but don’t freeze.

If you can’t refrigerate this form, you can store it at temperatures from 36°F (2ºC) to 77°F (25ºC) for up to 30 days.

Keep it away from heat and light.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry it with you or in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport X-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to provide your pharmacy’s preprinted label to airport security officials. This label clearly identifies the medication. Keep the original pharmacy prescription-labeled box when traveling with your medication.

Self-Management

  • Do not reuse needles or syringes.
  • Be sure to dispose of used needles and syringes in a puncture-resistant container to prevent injuries to you or others. 
  • Rotate the site where you inject to help prevent any injection site reactions.
  • Do not inject the medicine into skin that is bruised, irritated, reddened, or scarred.
  • Check the injection site for redness, swelling, or tenderness 2 hours after injection.
  • Medications for pain and fever may help improve flu-like symptoms from interferon beta-1a.
  • Contact your doctor if you have a skin reaction that doesn’t clear up after a few days.  

Intramuscular injection:

  • The first injection should be given under the supervision of your doctor or nurse to make sure you know how to use the medication properly.
  • Be sure to carefully follow the medication guide provided with your medication.
  • Wash your hands before each use. 
  • Use the alcohol pad to wipe the injection site clean.
  • Inject the recommended dose through your skin and into your muscle.
  • Discard any remaining product properly.

Subcutaneous injection

  • The first injection should be given under the supervision of your doctor or nurse to make sure you know how to use the medication properly.
  • Be sure to carefully follow the medication guide provided with your medication.
  • Wash your hands before each use.
  • Use the alcohol pad to wipe the injection site clean.
  • The best sites to inject are usually your thigh, outer surface of your upper arm, stomach, or buttocks.
  • Inject the recommended dose underneath your skin but not into your muscle. If you’re not sure exactly where this is, ask your doctor or nurse who will be with you the first time.
  • Administer at the same time on the same three days of the week with at least 48 hours between injections.

Training Required

Your doctor or nurse will show you how to prepare and administer injections to yourself before the first dose.

Additional Equipment Needed

To use this medication, you will need:

  • alcohol wipe
  • gauze pad
  • adhesive bandage
  • puncture resistant container for disposal of used syringes and needles

Clinical Monitoring

Liver function: Your doctor will monitor your liver function with blood tests before and during treatment. It’s important to have these tests so your doctor can tell if interferon beta-1a is causing liver problems. If your liver function worsens during therapy, your doctor may decrease the dose or stop interferon beta-1a therapy.

Thyroid function: Interferon beta-1a can affect your thyroid. Your doctor will check your thyroid function with blood tests before and throughout treatment.

Insurance

Many insurance companies may require a prior authorization before they approve the prescription and pay for interferon beta-1a.

Are There Any Alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be more suitable for you than others. Talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.


Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with Elaine Pimentel

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on April 8, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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