Health Guide
Drug Guide

Interferon Beta-1a (Intramuscular route, subcutaneous route)

Pronunciation:

in-ter-FEER-on BAY-ta-1a

Brand Names:

Dosage Forms:

Classifications:

Therapeutic

Immunological Agent

Pharmacologic

Interferon, Beta (class)

Uses of This Medicine:

Interferon beta-1a injection is used to treat the relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). This medicine will not cure MS, but it may slow some of the disabling effects and decrease the number of relapses of the disease. Interferons are natural substances that are produced in the body to help fight infections. Interferon beta-1a is a synthetic (man-made) version of these substances.

This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription.

Before Using This Medicine:

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Children

Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of interferon beta-1a injection in the pediatric population. Safety and efficacy have not been established.

Older adults

Although appropriate studies on the relationship of age to the effects of interferon beta-1a injection have not been performed in the geriatric population, geriatric-specific problems are not expected to limit the usefulness of interferon beta-1a injection in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have age-related kidney, liver, or heart problems, which may require caution in patients receiving interferon beta-1a injection.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy CategoryExplanation
All TrimestersCAnimal studies have shown an adverse effect and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women OR no animal studies have been conducted and there are no adequate studies in pregnant women.

Breast-feeding

There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.

Other medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking this medicine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

Other interactions

Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Other medical problems

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

Proper Use of This Medicine:

A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine. You may also be taught how to give your medicine at home. This medicine is given as a shot under your skin or into a muscle.

If you are injecting interferon beta-1a yourself, use it exactly as directed by your doctor. Do not change your dose or dosing schedule without checking first with your doctor. The exact amount of medicine you need has been carefully worked out. Using too much will increase the risk for side effects, while using too little may not improve your condition.

You will be shown the body areas where this shot can be given. Use a different body area each time you give yourself a shot. Keep track of where you give each shot to make sure you rotate body areas.

Use only the brand of this medicine that your doctor prescribed. Different brands may not work the same way.

Rebif® comes as an autoinjector or a prefilled syringe. It works best if you use it at the same time (usually in the late afternoon or evening) on the same 3 days (eg, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) at least 48 hours apart each week.

Avonex® comes as a prefilled autoinjector pen, a prefilled syringe, or a powder. The powder must be mixed with sterile water before it is given. Do not shake the vial after you add the water. Gently swirl the water and medicine together to mix. The mixture should be clear or slightly yellow. Do not use the mixture if you see particles in it. Use the medicine as soon as possible after mixing. If you cannot give your shot right away, you can keep the syringe in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours. After 6 hours, throw the medicine away and mix another dose.

Use a new needle, unopened vial, or syringe each time you inject your medicine. Do not use any other needle for the prefilled autoinjector pen.

Each package of medicine contains a Medication Guide and a sheet called Instructions for Use. Read this information carefully and make sure you understand:

Dosing

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

Missed dose

If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.

Avonex®: If you miss a dose, give it as soon as you can. Go back to your regular schedule the following week. Do not use this medicine 2 days in a row.

Rebif®: If you miss a dose, give it as soon as you can. Skip the next day and give your regular dose 48 hours later. Go back to your regular schedule the following week. Do not use this medicine 2 days in a row.

Storage

Keep out of the reach of children.

Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.

Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.

Store prefilled autoinjector pens, prefilled syringes, or vials in the refrigerator. Do not freeze. If refrigeration is not available, Rebif® prefilled syringes and Avonex® powder vials may be kept for up to 30 days at room temperature, away from heat (temperatures above 77 degrees F) and direct light. Avonex® prefilled autoinjector pens and prefilled syringes may be stored for up to 7 days at room temperature, away from heat (temperatures above 77 degrees F) and direct light. Allow Avonex® prefilled autoinjector pens and prefilled syringes to warm to room temperature before injection by removing from the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Do not heat them in a microwave oven or in hot water.

Put the used needles into a hard, closed container that the needles cannot poke through. Keep this container away from children and pets.

Precautions While Using This Medicine:

It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that this medicine is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.

This medicine may cause some people to be anxious, irritable, or display other abnormal behaviors. It may also cause some people to have suicidal thoughts and tendencies or to become more depressed. If you or your caregiver notice any of these side effects, tell your doctor right away.

Check with your doctor right away if you have dark urine, persistent loss of appetite, flu-like symptoms, headache, continuing vomiting, general feeling of tiredness or weakness, light-colored stools, right upper stomach pain or tenderness, or yellow eyes or skin. These could be symptoms of a serious liver problem.

This medicine may cause serious allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Call your doctor right away if you have a rash, itching, hoarseness, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, or any swelling of your hands, face, or mouth while you are using this medicine.

This medicine may lower the number of white blood cells in the blood. This will increase your chance of getting an infection. It can also lower the number of platelets in the blood. Platelets are necessary for proper blood clotting. If this occurs, there are certain precautions you can take, especially when your blood count is low, to reduce the risk of infection or bleeding:

This medicine may cause redness, pain, or swelling at the injection site. Some patients have developed skin infections or a permanent depression (necrosis) under the skin at the injection site. Contact your doctor right away if you notice depressed or indented skin, blue-green to black skin discoloration, or pain, redness, or sloughing (peeling) of the skin.

This medicine commonly causes a flu-like reaction, with aching muscles, chills, fever, headaches, joint pain, and nausea. Using your shot at bedtime may allow you to sleep through the symptoms. Your doctor may want you to take a medicine to help control the pain or fever (eg, acetaminophen or ibuprofen). Carefully follow your doctor's instructions about how to prevent or treat these symptoms.

This medicine contains albumin, which comes from human blood. Some human blood products have transmitted certain viruses to people who have received them, although the risk is low. Human donors and donated blood are both tested for viruses to keep the transmission risk low. Talk with your doctor about this risk if you are concerned. The Avonex® prefilled autoinjector pen and prefilled syringe do not contain albumin which comes from donated human blood.

The tip cap of the Avonex® prefilled syringe contains dry natural rubber (a derivative of latex), which may cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to latex. Tell your doctor if you have a latex allergy before you start using this medicine.

Side Effects of This Medicine:

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

More common
Black, tarry stools
chest pain
chills
cough
diarrhea
fever
flu-like symptoms
headache
joint pain
muscle aches
nausea
pain
painful or difficult urination
shortness of breath
sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
swollen glands
unusual bleeding or bruising
unusual tiredness or weakness
Less common
Abdominal or stomach pain
clumsiness or unsteadiness
convulsions (seizures)
decreased hearing
difficulty with swallowing
dizziness
fainting
feeling of warmth
hives or itching
mood changes, especially with thoughts of suicide
muscle spasms
pain or discharge from the vagina
pelvic discomfort, aching, or heaviness
redness of the face, neck, arms, and occasionally, upper chest
redness, swelling, or tenderness at the injection site
runny or stuffy nose
skin lesions
sneezing
sore throat
speech problems
swelling of the face, lips, or eyelids
troubled breathing
Rare
Earache
general feeling of discomfort or illness
loss of appetite
painful blisters on trunk of the body
painful cold sores or blisters on the lips, nose, eyes, or genitals
Incidence not known
Bleeding gums
blood in the urine or stools
bloody nose
chest discomfort
confusion
constipation
dark urine
decreased urine output
depressed mood
dilated neck veins
dry skin and hair
extreme fatigue
fast, irregular, or pounding heartbeat
feeling cold
general tiredness and weakness
hair loss
heavier menstrual periods
high fever
irregular breathing
light-colored stools
loss of bladder control
mental depression
mood or other mental changes
muscle cramps and stiffness
nausea or vomiting
nervousness
pale skin
persistent loss of appetite
pinpoint red spots on the skin
puffiness or swelling of the eyelids, or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
redness, blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
sensitivity to heat
skin rash
slowed heartbeat
sudden loss of consciousness
sweating
swelling of the face, fingers, feet, or lower legs
swelling of the mouth or throat
tightness in the chest
tightness in the throat
upper right abdominal or stomach pain or tenderness
weight gain or loss
yellow eyes and skin

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

More common
Heartburn
indigestion
sour stomach
Less common
Hair loss
trouble sleeping

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Last Updated: 10/12/2016

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