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Interferon beta-1a

Generic Name: interferon beta-1a (IN-ter-FEER-on BAY-ta)
Brand Name: Rebif

Interferon beta-1a is 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.

Interferon beta-1a is a protein identical to one found in the body. How interferon beta-1a works is not fully understood. It is thought to interfere with other chemicals in the body that cause flare-ups of MS.

Do NOT use interferon beta-1a if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in interferon beta-1a, to other interferon beta products, or to human albumin. Ask your doctor if you are not sure

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Slideshow: Flashback: FDA Drug Approvals 2013

Before using interferon beta-1a:

Some medical conditions may interact with interferon beta-1a. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have a history of liver problems or high liver enzyme levels, blood problems (eg, anemia), thyroid problems, bone marrow depression, bleeding problems or blood clots, heart disease, seizures, alcohol abuse or dependence, mental or mood problems (eg, depression), or suicidal thoughts or behaviors

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with interferon beta-1a. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Medicines that may harm the liver (eg, acetaminophen, methotrexate, ketoconazole, isoniazid, certain medicines for HIV infection) because the risk of liver side effects may be increased. Ask your doctor if you are unsure if any of your medicines might harm the liver.

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if interferon beta-1a may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use interferon beta-1a:

Use interferon beta-1a as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Interferon beta-1a comes with an extra patient information sheet called a Medication Guide. Read it carefully. Read it again each time you get interferon beta-1a refilled.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use interferon beta-1a.

Important safety information:

  • 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 (eg, 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.
  • Do NOT use more than the recommended dose. If you use more than your prescribed dose, contact your doctor right away.
  • 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. Tell your doctor if you have dark, tarry, or bloody stools.
  • Injection-site reactions happen often 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.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant or if you plan on getting pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using interferon beta-1a while you are pregnant. It is not known if interferon beta-1a is found in breast milk. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you use interferon beta-1a, check with your doctor. Discuss any possible risks to your baby.

Possible side effects of 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 (eg, 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 (eg, anxiety, depression); mouth sores; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin; seizures; suicidal thoughts or behaviors; symptoms of infection (eg, fever, chills, or persistent sore throat; increased or painful urination; warm, red, or swollen skin); symptoms of liver problems (eg, confusion; yellowing of the skin or eyes; dark urine; pale stools; nausea; stomach pain; loss of appetite; unusual tiredness); unexplained change in weight.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately.

Proper storage of interferon beta-1a:

Store interferon beta-1a in the refrigerator, between 36 and 46 degrees F (2 and 8 degrees C). Do not freeze. If refrigeration is not available, interferon beta-1a can be stored at or below 77 degrees F (25 degrees C) for up to 30 days. Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep interferon beta-1a, as well as needles and syringes, out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about interferon beta-1a, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Interferon beta-1a is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take interferon beta-1a or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about interferon beta-1a. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to interferon beta-1a. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using interferon beta-1a.

Issue Date: July 2, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.001
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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