Interferon beta

By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor

Generic Name: Interferon beta Brand Name(s): Interferon beta and Interferon beta.

Uses

What is interferon beta 1a used for?

Interferon beta-1a is a protein identical to one found in the body. It is commonly used for treating relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) to reduce the number of flare-ups and slow down the development of physical disability associated with MS.

How should I take interferon beta 1a?

Interferon beta-1a is usually given as an injection at your doctor’s office, hospital, or clinic.

If you will be using interferon beta-1a at home, a health care provider will teach you how to use it. Be sure you understand how to use interferon beta-1a. Follow the procedures you are taught when you use a dose. Contact your health care provider if you have any questions.

Do not use interferon beta-1a if it contains particles, is cloudy or discolored, or if the container is cracked or damaged.

Use the proper technique taught to you by your doctor. Inject deep under the skin, not into muscle or a vein.

Rotate injection sites with each injection. Do not inject interferon beta-1a into an area that is irritated, bruised, red, infected, or scarred, or has stretch marks.

Keep this product, as well as syringes and needles, out of the reach of children and away from pets. Do not reuse needles, syringes, or other materials. Ask your health care provider how to dispose of these materials after use. Follow all local rules for disposal.

How do I store interferon beta 1a?

Interferon beta 1a is best stored in the refrigerator. To prevent drug damage, do not freeze. There may be different brands of interferon beta 1a that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush interferon beta 1a down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using interferon beta 1a?

Before using this drug, there is som important information that you may notice:

  • Some patients become depressed or suicidal while taking interferon beta-1a. If you begin to feel depressed or suicidal, contact your doctor.
  • Severe liver problems (e.g., the need for a liver transplant) have happened with interferon beta-1a. Your risk of liver problems may be greater if you drink alcohol while you are using interferon beta-1a.
  • Interferon beta-1a commonly causes flu-like symptoms. Talk to your doctor about whether you should take a nonprescription medicine for pain or fever reduction before or after taking interferon beta-1a.
  • Interferon beta-1a may lower the ability of your body to fight infection. Avoid contact with people who have colds or infections. Tell your doctor if you notice signs of infection like fever, sore throat, rash, or chills.
  • Interferon beta-1a may reduce the number of clot-forming cells (platelets) in your blood. Avoid activities that may cause bruising or injury. Tell your doctor if you have unusual bruising or bleeding, dark, tarry, or bloody stools.
  • Injection-site reactions often happen with interferon beta-1a. Sometimes, very bad injection-site reactions may happen. Check with your doctor if you have any injection-site reactions that continue or become bothersome. Call your doctor right away if you have any break in the skin, color changes (blue or black), swelling, or drainage of fluid at the injection site.
  • Interferon beta-1a contains albumin, which comes from human blood. There is a very rare risk of getting a viral disease or a CNS disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from products with albumin. No cases of these problems have been found in patients who have used interferon beta-1a.
  • Lab tests, including blood cell counts, liver function, and thyroid function, may be performed while you use interferon beta-1a. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.

Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using this medication during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication. This medication is pregnancy risk category C, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk
  • B=No risk in some studies
  • C=There may be some risk
  • D=Positive evidence of risk
  • X=Contraindicated
  • N=Unknown

Side effects

What side effects can occur from interferon beta 1a?

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most common side effects persist or become bothersome:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Flu-like symptoms (e.g., headache, tiredness, fever, chills, back pain, muscle aches, weakness)
  • Muscle or back pain
  • Stomach pain

Seek medical attention right away if any of these severe side effects occur:

  • Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, throat, or tongue)
  • Change in balance
  • Change in vision
  • Chest pain
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Extreme tiredness or weakness
  • Fainting
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Feeling cold or hot all the time
  • Mental or mood changes (e.g., anxiety, depression)
  • Mouth sores
  • Red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin
  • Seizures
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Symptoms of infection (e.g., fever, chills, or persistent sore throat; increased or painful urination; warm, red, or swollen skin)
  • Symptoms of liver problems (e.g., confusion; yellowing of the skin or eyes; dark urine; pale stools; nausea; stomach pain; loss of appetite; unusual tiredness)
  • Unexplained change in weight

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Interactions

What drugs may interact with interferon beta 1a?

Interferon beta 1a may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Especially, medicines that may harm the liver (e.g., acetaminophen, methotrexate, ketoconazole, isoniazid, certain medicines for HIV infection) because the risk of liver side effects may be increased.

Does food or alcohol interact with interferon beta 1a?

Interferon beta 1a may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with interferon beta 1a?

Interferon beta 1a may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.

These health conditions are:

  • A history of liver problems or high liver enzyme levels
  • Blood problems (e.g., anemia)
  • Thyroid problems
  • Bone marrow depression
  • Bleeding problems or blood clots
  • Heart disease
  • Seizures
  • Alcohol abuse or dependence
  • Mental or mood problems (e.g., depression)
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors

Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using interferon beta 1a.

What is the dose of interferon beta 1a for an adult?

Multiple sclerosis (adult)

(Indicated for the treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis to slow accumulation of physical disability and decrease frequency of clinical exacerbations)

Avonex

  • 30 mcg IM weekly
  • May be titrated using the AVOSTARTGRIP titration kit with prefilled IM syringes starting with 7.5 mcg IM for first week, to reduce flu-like symptoms; increase by 7.5 mcg/week for next 3 weeks until recommended dose of 30 mcg/week.
  • Administration: Rotate IM injection sites between upper thighs and arms

Rebif 44 mcg target dose

  • Weeks 1-2: 8.8 mcg SC 3 times/ week (at least 48 hour apart)
  • Weeks 3-4: 22 mcg SC 3 times/ week
  • Weeks 5+: 44 mcg SC 3 times/ week
  • Administration: Abdomen (except waistline), thigh, arm, buttocks

Rebif 22 mcg target dose

  • Weeks 1-2: 4.4 mcg SC 3 times/ week (at least 48 hour apart)
  • Weeks 3-4: 11 mcg SC 3 times/ week
  • Weeks 5+: 22 mcg SC 3 times/ week
  • Administration: Abdomen (except waistline), thigh, arm, buttocks

Hepatic Impairment (adult)

Rebif: Decrease dose 20-50% if liver function tests increase or leukopenia observed.

Multiple sclerosis (Geriatric)

Avonex

  • 30 mcg IM weekly
  • May be titrated using the AVOSTARTGRIP titration kit with prefilled IM syringes starting with 7.5 mcg IM for first week, to reduce flu-like symptoms; increase by 7.5 mcg/week for next 3 weeks until recommended dose of 30 mcg/week
  • Administration: Rotate IM injection sites between upper thighs and arms
  • Monitor: Hgb, WBC, Plt, LFTs

Rebif 44 mcg target dose

  • Weeks 1-2: 8.8 mcg SC 3 times/week (at least 48 hours apart)
  • Weeks 3-4: 22 mcg SC 3 times/week
  • Weeks 5+: 44 mcg SC 3 times/week
  • Administration: Abdomen (except waistline), thigh, arm, buttocks
  • Monitor: Hgb, WBC, Plt, LFTs

Rebif 22 mcg target dose

  • Weeks 1-2: 4.4 mcg SC 3 times/week (at least 48 hours apart)
  • Weeks 3-4: 11 mcg SC 3 times/week
  • Weeks 5+: 22 mcg SC 3 times/week
  • Administration: Abdomen (except waistline), thigh, arm, buttocks
  • Monitor: Hgb, WBC, Plt, LFTs

What is the dose of Interferon beta 1a for a child?

Multiple sclerosis (Off-label)

Safety and efficacy not established. Limited data suggests to titrate as in adults.

Avonex

  • 30 mcg IM week
  • May be titrated using the AVOSTARTGRIP titration kit with prefilled IM syringes starting with 7.5 mcg IM for first week, to reduce flu-like symptoms; increase by 7.5 mcg/week for next 3 weeks until recommended dose of 30 mcg/week.
  • Administration: Rotate IM injection sites between upper thighs and arms

Rebif 44 mcg target dose

  • Weeks 1-2: 8.8 mcg SC 3 times/week (at least 48 hours apart)
  • Weeks 3-4: 22 mcg SC 3 times/week
  • Weeks 5+: 44 mcg SC 3 times/week
  • Administration: Abdomen (except waistline), thigh, arm, buttocks

Rebif 22 mcg target dose

  • Weeks 1-2: 4.4 mcg SC 3 times/week (at least 48 hours apart)
  • Weeks 3-4: 11 mcg SC 3 times/week
  • Weeks 5+: 22 mcg SC 3 times/week
  • Administration: Abdomen (except waistline), thigh, arm, buttocks
  • Monitor: Hgb, WBC, Plt, LFTs

How is interferon beta 1a available?

Interferon beta 1a is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • IM syringe 30mcg/0.5ml
  • SC syringe 8.8mcg/0.2ml
  • SC syringe 22mcg/0.5ml
  • SC syringe 44mcg/0.5ml
  • SC auto injector 8.8mcg/syringe, 22mcg/syringe, 44mcg/syringe

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of interferon beta-1a, use it as soon as possible and skip your dose the following day. Do not take interferon beta-1a on 2 consecutive days. Return to your regular dosing schedule the following week. If you accidentally take interferon beta-1a on 2 consecutive days or take more than your prescribed dose, contact your doctor immediately.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: March 18, 2017 | Last Modified: September 12, 2019

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