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Generic Name:

interferon-beta-1b, Injectable solution

All Brands

  • Betaseron
  • Extavia
SECTION 1 of 4

Highlights for interferon-beta-1b

Injectable solution
1

Interferon beta-1b is an injected drug used to treat multiple sclerosis.

2

The dose of interferon beta-1b is injected under your skin every other day. The dose is usually increased over a 6-week period.

3

The most common side effects include injection site reactions, low blood cell counts, headache, flu-like symptoms, and trouble sleeping. Taking a pain reducer on the days you take the drug can help prevent some of these side effects.

4

This medication may cause new or worsening depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, or suicidal thoughts.

5

Interferon beta-1b may cause liver problems. Your doctor may order a blood test to check how well your liver is working before you start and during therapy.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Liver problems or liver failure

Your doctor may monitor your liver function to detect potential problems. Symptoms of liver problems include:

  • yellowing of the whites of your eyes
  • itchy skin
  • extreme tiredness
  • flu-like symptoms
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • bruising or bleeding more easily

May cause depression or suicidal thoughts

Call your doctor right away if you experience:

  • thoughts about dying or hurting yourself
  • new or worsening depression
  • new or worsening anxiety
  • trouble sleeping
  • angry or violent feelings
  • impulses to harm yourself or others

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. 

Lupus

This medication may cause drug-induced lupus. Tell your doctor right away if you have any signs of this condition. Symptoms may include rash, arthritis, inflammation of your kidneys, and Raynaud’s disease (numbness and coldness in certain parts of your body). If you develop lupus, your doctor may stop your treatment with this drug.

Drug features

This drug is a prescription drug. It’s available as a self-injection.

Why it's used

This drug is used to treat people with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. It won’t cure multiple sclerosis, but it may reduce the number of disease flare-ups.

How it works

This drug works by decreasing your body's ability to produce chemicals that cause inflammation. It also helps to prevent the destruction of your nerve cells.

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SECTION 2 of 4

interferon-beta-1b Side Effects

Injectable solution

Most Common Side Effects

The most common side effects that occur with Interferon beta-1b include:

  • injection site reactions, including:

    • swelling
    • bump under the skin (mass)
    • pain
    • bleeding
    • rash
    • itching
    • tissue loss (atrophy). You may see an indentation of your skin at the injection site.
  • flu-like symptoms, including:

    • fever
    • chills
    • muscle aches
    • tiredness
    • sweating
  • decrease in white blood cells that fight infection. Your healthcare provider may do blood tests to check for this.

  • trouble sleeping

  • headache

  • stomach pain

  • liver damage

  • rash

  • muscle aches

  • tightness of muscles or increased muscle tone

  • muscle weakness

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 if you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

  • liver problems: Symptoms may include:

    • yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
    • itchy skin
    • feeling very tired
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • bleeding more easily
  • severe allergic reaction: Symptoms may include:

    • trouble breathing
    • swelling of your throat or tongue
    • hives
  • depression or suicidal thoughts

  • 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
  • break in skin at injection site with swelling, fluid drainage, or blue-black discoloration

  • increase in infections

  • seizures

  • thrombotic microangiopathy. This condition usually involves a low level of platelets (cells that clot your blood) and a certain type of anemia. It can start several weeks to years after you first start taking this drug. It can even be fatal (cause death). Symptoms can include: 

    • fever
    • kidney failure
    • seizures
    • vision loss
  • lupus. Symptoms can include:

    • rash
    • arthritis
    • inflammation of your kidneys
    • Raynaud’s disease (numbness and coldness in certain parts of your body)
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug does not cause drowsiness.

Mild side effects may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if your side effects are more severe or don’t disappear.

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-1b May Interact with Other Medications

Injectable solution

Drug interactions between interferon beta-1b and other drugs haven’t been fully studied. Drugs commonly used to treat multiple sclerosis don’t appear to have important interactions.

Interferon beta-1b 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. Combining it with alcohol may increase your chances of having liver damage. Tell your doctor if you drink alcohol, and how much you drink, 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.
Drug warnings
liver problems
People with liver problems

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

depression
People with depression, mental illness

This drug may cause depression or make your depression worse. It may also change your mood or behavior. Tell your doctor if you have a history of depression.

heart conditions
People with heart conditions

It isn’t known if this drug has a direct effect on your heart. Some people who didn’t have a history of heart problems developed heart muscle problems or heart failure after taking this medication. If you already have any type of heart problem, this drug may make it worse. Discuss your heart condition with your doctor. They may still prescribe it with careful monitoring.

blood problems
People with blood problems

This drug can decrease your red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Your doctor will monitor these with blood tests before and periodically during treatment. Decreased red blood cell counts can result in fatigue. Low white blood cell counts may increase your chance of infections. Decreased platelet counts can increase your risk for bleeding. Your doctor may still prescribe the medication with careful monitoring.

pregnant woman
Pregnant women

This drug 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. This drug should only be used during pregnancy if the potential benefit outweighs the potential risk to the fetus.

breastfeeding
Women who are breast-feeding

It isn’t known if this drugpasses through breast milk. If the medication does enter breast milk, it could cause potentially serious side effects in a breastfeeding child.

Talk to your doctor about either breastfeeding or taking this drug. You shouldn’t do both.

seniors
For seniors

There isn’t enough information to know if this drug is safe or effective in people aged 65 years and older.

children
For children

The effectiveness and safety of this drug haven’t been established in people younger than 18 years.

allergies
Allergies

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to this drug, another interferon beta, human albumin, or mannitol. If you’ve had a reaction to any of these, taking it again could result in a serious, potentially fatal reaction.

Symptoms of allergic reaction include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue
  • hives

The cap of the prefilled syringe contains natural rubber latex. This may cause an allergic reaction if you’re allergic to latex. If you’re allergic to latex, you should not use this drug.

SECTION 4 of 4

How to Take interferon-beta-1b (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: Betaseron, Extavia

Form: Powder vial for injection
Strength: 0.3 mg
Adult Dosage (ages 18-64 years)
  • Inject 0.0625 mg of the drug (contained in 0.25 mL of mixed solution) under your skin every other day to start.
  • The dose may be increased over 6 weeks to a final dose of 0.25 mg (1mL of mixed solution) every other day.
Child Dosage (ages 0-17 years)

This medicine hasn’t been studied in children and shouldn’t 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
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This medication comes with risks if you don’t take it exactly how your doctor prescribes.

If you don't take it on schedule

It’s important to take all of your doses at the times you were told to take them. This keeps the same amount of the drug in your system from day to day to get the most effective results. Missing doses or not taking it as scheduled can change the amount of the drug in your body from day to day and lessen the effect of the drug.

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 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, take your next dose as soon as you can. After you take your missed dose, you must wait 48 hours to take the next dose. Don’t take this medication 2 days in a row.

How can I tell if the drug is working?

You can tell this drug may be working if you experience a decrease in flare-ups.

This drug is a long-term drug treatment.

Important considerations for taking this drug

Store at room temperature: 68–77°F (20–25°C)

You can store the vials up to 3 months in temperatures as low as 59°F (15ºC) and as high as 86°F (30ºC). If you don’t inject the vials after mixing it, refrigerate the mixed solution and use it within 3 hours. 

Don’t freeze this drug.

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 this medication.
  • You may need to show the pharmacy’s preprinted label to identify the medication. Keep the original prescription-labeled bottle with you when traveling.

Clinical monitoring

Liver function: Your doctor will monitor your liver function with blood tests before and periodically during treatment. If your liver function worsens during therapy, your doctor may decrease the dose or stop this drug.

Blood cells: Your doctor will monitor your red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelet counts before and periodically during treatment. Decreased red blood cell counts can result in fatigue. Low white blood cell counts may increase your risk of infections. Decreased platelet counts can increase your risk of bleeding. Your doctor may decide to decrease the dose or stop this drug if you have low red blood cell, white blood cell, or platelet counts.

Insurance

Many insurance companies will require a prior authorization before they approve the prescription and pay for this drug.

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.

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on May 20, 2016

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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