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How do you use the Avonex pen injector?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on May 8, 2023.

Official answer

  • The Avonex pen is designed for self-administration into the upper outer thigh.
  • Self-administration is straightforward, but it is best to get a nurse or doctor to show you initially.
  • Avonex should be removed from the refrigerator and allowed to warm up naturally for 30 minutes to room temperature before administration.
  • Avonex is a brand of interferon beta-1a. Interferons are cytokines, which are proteins that cells use to communicate with each other to trigger the protective defenses of the immune system.

Avonex is a brand of interferon beta-1a that may be used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) in adults, such as clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting disease, and active secondary progressive disease, in adults.

How do you administer Avonex?

To use the Avonex pen:

  1. Take the Avonex pen out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before you intend to administer it. Do not use hot water or a microwave to heat the pen up, allow it to warm up naturally. Check its expiry date and do not use it if expired.
  2. Hold the Avonex pen with the white tamper-evident cap pointing upwards. With your other hand, grasp the cap and bend it at a 90° angle until it snaps off.
  3. Place the pen down on a surface while you remove the sterile foil off the needle cover. Pick up the pen and then press the needle onto the Avonex glass syringe tip. Gently turn the needle to the right until it is firmly attached.
  4. Hold the pen in one hand while with the other hand, hold onto the injector shield tightly and quickly pull onto the injector shield until the injector shield covers the needle all the way. This will cause the plastic needle cover to pop off.
  5. This will expose a small blue rectangular area next to the oval medicine display window. Check the contents of the syringe via the oval medicine display window. Do not use if the liquid is cloudy, colored, or contains particles. A few air bubbles inside the pen are normal and do not affect the dose.
  6. Sit down. Choose an injection site on your outside, upper thigh, and wipe it with an alcohol swab. Let it dry and do not touch this site before administering the injection.
  7. Place the Avonex pen on the injection site and hold the body of the pen at a 90° angle to the injection site. Make sure you can see the window.
  8. Keeping your fingers away from the blue activation button at the end of the syringe, press the syringe firmly down on the skin to release the safety lock. The blue rectangular area disappears when the safety lock has been released.
  9. While you maintain pressure against the skin of the thigh, press the blue activation button with your thumb. You should hear a click as the injection starts. Slowly count to ten.
  10. After you reach ten, remove the pen from the skin and apply pressure using a gauze pad. The circular display panel on the pen should now be yellow. This shows that a full dose has been given.
  11. You can replace the cover by lining up the exposed needle with the hole in the cover (do not use your hands) or just place the Avonex pen directly into a sharps bin without replacing the cover. Place all the other equipment associated with your dose in the sharps bin as well.

How do you store Avonex?

Avonex prefilled syringes and autoinjectors should be stored at 2°C to 8°C (36°F to 46°F) in their original packaging to protect from light. They should not be frozen. Do not use Avonex if it has exceeded its expiry date.

Before use, Avonex should be removed from the refrigerator and allowed to warm naturally to room temperature for 30 minutes before administering. Do not use external heat sources such as a microwave or hot water.

Allowing the injection to warm to room temperature makes the injection procedure more comfortable for the person being administered it.

If refrigeration is unavailable, Avonex may be kept unrefrigerated, at room temperature (below 25°C (77°F) for 7 days. Do not put back into the refrigerator after this time. Discard if unused. Avonex should not be exposed to high temperatures greater than 25°C (77°F).

Do not use if Avonex has been kept at room temperature for longer than 7 days, or exposed to temperatures other than those recommended. Do not use beyond the expiration date.

How does Avonex work?

Interferon beta-1a, the active ingredient in Avonex is, a 186 amino acid glycoprotein. There are several different types of interferons produced by the body to fight viral infections and other foreign invaders. Although the interferon in Avonex is man-made, it contains all of the same basic components as the interferon beta that occurs naturally in the human body.

Interferons help control immune system activities. Avonex helps to inhibit inflammation that can cause MS flare-ups. Avonex may help slow the progression of physical disability associated with Multiple sclerosis (MS) in people with MRI results that contain features consistent with MS lesions.

How is Avonex given?

Avonex is administered by injection directly into the muscle (intramuscular) and comes in several forms:

  • A powdered form which requires reconstitution
  • Single-use prefilled syringe (30 micrograms)
  • Autoinjector, single-use (30 micrograms)
  • Avostart Grip titration kit to use with prefilled syringes.

The recommended dose is 30 micrograms once a week; however, smaller dosages (for example 7.5 micrograms) may be given initially to reduce the incidence and severity of flu-like symptoms that may occur when initiating Avonex therapy at a dose of 30 micrograms. The dose may be increased by 7.5 micrograms each week for the next three weeks until the recommended dose of 30 micrograms is achieved.


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