Interferon Beta-1a (Injection)

Introduction

Interferon Beta-1a (in-ter-FEER-on BAY-ta-1a)

Reduces frequency of flare-ups (relapses) in people who have multiple sclerosis (MS). Also delays some of the physical disabilities caused by MS.

Brand Name(s)

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

Avonex, Rebif

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to interferon or human albumin.

How to Use This Medicine

Injectable

  • Your doctor will prescribe your exact dose and tell you how often it should be given. This medicine is given as a shot under your skin or into a muscle.
  • This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. Ask your pharmacist for the Medication Guide if you do not have one. Your doctor might ask you to sign some forms to show that you understand this information.
  • A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine.
  • You may be taught how to give your medicine at home. Make sure you understand all instructions before giving yourself an injection. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • Rebif® works best if you use it at the same time on the same days each week.
  • Avonex® comes as 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.
  • 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 a new needle and syringe each time you inject your medicine.
  • After you have used 1 dose of the prefilled syringe, throw away any medicine left in the syringe. Do not reuse needles or syringes.

If a dose is missed:

  • If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, use it as soon as you can. This will then change the time for your next dose. After using the missed dose, use your next regular dose of Rebif® 48 hours later and go back to your regular schedule the following week. For Avonex®, if your next regular dose is less than 2 days away, call your doctor. For either brand, do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose and do not use this medicine two days in a row.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine

  • If you store this medicine at home, keep it in the refrigerator. Do not freeze. You may let the medicine warm to room temperature for about half an hour on the counter just before injecting, but do not heat it in a microwave oven.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any leftover medicine, containers, and other supplies. You will also need to throw away old medicine after the expiration date has passed.
  • Throw away used needles in a hard, closed container that the needles cannot poke through. Keep this container away from children and pets.
  • Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Tell your doctor if you drink alcohol on a regular basis.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are breast feeding, or if you have heart disease, liver disease, or thyroid problems. Tell your doctor if you have seizures, bone marrow depression, or bleeding problems. Your doctor will need to know if you have a history of depression or other emotional problems. Make sure your doctor knows if you have an allergy to latex rubber.
  • This medicine is made from donated human blood. Some human blood products have transmitted certain viruses to people who have received them. The risk of getting a virus from medicines made of human blood has been greatly reduced in recent years. This is the result of required testing of human donors for certain viruses, and testing during manufacture of these medicines. Although the risk is low, talk with your doctor if you have concerns. The Avonex® ready to use syringe does not contain albumin which comes from donated human blood.
  • This medicine lowers the number of some types of blood cells in your body. Because of this, you may bleed or get infections more easily. To help with these problems, avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Wash your hands often. Stay away from rough sports or other situations where you could be bruised, cut, or injured. Brush and floss your teeth gently. Be careful when using sharp objects, including razors and fingernail clippers.
  • Your doctor will need to check your blood at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing.
  • Change in how much, or how often you urinate.
  • Chest pain, or fast heartbeat.
  • Dark-colored urine or pale stools.
  • Depressed mood, thoughts of hurting yourself or others.
  • Fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, or body aches.
  • Numbness, tingling, or burning pain in your hands, arms, legs, or feet.
  • Severe or ongoing pain, redness, or swelling where the shot is given.
  • Shortness of breath, cold sweat, and bluish-colored skin.
  • Swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet.
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness.
  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Changes in your menstrual periods.
  • Headache.
  • Mild nausea, diarrhea, or stomach pain.
  • Muscle, back, or bone pain.

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

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

Review Date: 2011-02-04 Reviewed By: Keywords: ,
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