Skip to main content

Interferon beta-1a Side Effects

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Mar 30, 2023.

Applies to interferon beta-1a: kit, solution.

Serious side effects of Interferon beta-1a

Along with its needed effects, interferon beta-1a 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 while taking interferon beta-1a:

More common

Less common

Rare

Incidence not known

Other side effects of Interferon beta-1a

Some side effects of interferon beta-1a 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

Less common

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to interferon beta-1a: intramuscular kit, intramuscular powder for injection, subcutaneous kit, subcutaneous solution.

General

Influenza-like symptoms (e.g., myalgia, fever, chills, sweating, asthenia, headache, nausea) are the most common adverse reactions.[Ref]

Hematologic

Very common (10% or more): Lymphopenia (14%), leukopenia (11%), neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, anemia

Common (1% to 10%): Neutrophil count decreased, hematocrit decreased, blood potassium increased, blood urea nitrogen increased

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Platelet count decreased

Rare (Less than 0.1%): Thrombotic microangiopathy including thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura/hemolytic uremic syndrome,

Frequency not reported: Pancytopenia[Ref]

Gastrointestinal

Very common (10% or more): Nausea (27%), diarrhea (17%), constipation (12%), vomiting (10%)

Common (1% to 10%): Abdominal pain, toothache

Frequency not reported: Dry mouth, dyspepsia[Ref]

Dermatologic

Very common (10% or more): Skin rashes (25%), increased sweating

Common (1% to 10%): Contusion, pruritus, erythematous rash, maculopapular rash, night sweats

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Alopecia, allergic dermatitis, erythema, urticaria

Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Skin ulceration/necrosis at the site of injection, Quincke's edema (angioedema), erythema multiforme, Stevens-Johnson syndrome

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Calcified subcutaneous nodules, psoriasis, periungual and nail alterations

Frequency not reported: Rash vesicular[Ref]

Endocrine

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism[Ref]

Cardiovascular

Frequency not reported: Cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, palpitations, arrhythmia, tachycardia, vasodilatation, chest pain, pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) (sometimes reported up to several years after starting treatment)[Ref]

Genitourinary

Very common (10% or more): Urinary tract infection (19%), cystitis (11%)

Frequency not reported: Metrorrhagia, menorrhagia, urinary incontinence, increase in the frequency of micturition[Ref]

Hepatic

Very common (10% or more): Alanine aminotransferase increased (26%), aspartate aminotransferase increased (16%)

Common (1% to 10%): Gamma-glutamyl-transferase increased

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Hepatitis (with or without icterus)

Rare (Less than 0.1%): Hepatic failure, autoimmune hepatitis

Frequency not reported: Elevation of hepatic transaminases (SGPT and SGOT), bilirubinemia, jaundice[Ref]

Hypersensitivity

Rare (Less than 0.1%): Anaphylactic reactions

Frequency not reported: Other allergic reactions[Ref]

Immunologic

Very common (10% or more): Influenza-like symptoms (49%)

Frequency not reported: Systemic lupus erythematosus, anaphylactic reaction, anaphylactic shock, hypersensitivity reactions (angioedema, dyspnea, urticaria, rash, pruritic rash)[Ref]

Local

Very common (10% or more): Injection site erythema (62%), injection site pain (15%), injection site pruritus (13%), injection site bruising

Common (1% to 10%): Injection site edema, injection site warmth, injection site hematoma, injection site rash

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Injection site infections (which could be severe)

Rare (Less than 0.1%): Injection site cellulitis (which could be severe)

Frequency not reported: Injection site abscess, injection site reaction, injection site inflammation, injection site necrosis, injection site bleeding[Ref]

Musculoskeletal

Very common (10% or more): Myalgia (19%), back pain (20%), pain in extremity (19%), arthralgia (16%), muscular weakness (12%), muscle spasms (10%)

Common (1% to 10%): Muscle spasticity, muscle cramp, neck pain, arthralgia, muscle stiffness, musculoskeletal stiffness

Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Drug induced lupus erythematosus

Frequency not reported: Arthritis[Ref]

Nervous system

Very common (10% or more): Headache (67%), dizziness (16%), paresthesia (12%)

Common (1% to 10%): Hypoesthesia

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Facial hypoesthesia

Frequency not reported: Neurological symptoms, syncope, hypertonia, seizures, migraine[Ref]

Metabolic

Frequency not reported: Weight decreased, weight increased[Ref]

Ocular

Common (1% to 10%): Eye pain

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Retinal vascular disorders (i.e. retinopathy, cotton wool spots, obstruction of retinal artery or vein)

Frequency not reported: Eye disorder, abnormal vision, xerophthalmia[Ref]

Other

Very common (10% or more): Pyrexia (45%), asthenia (24%), pain (23%), fever (20%), chills (19%)

Common (1% to 10%): Fatigue, malaise, hyperthermia, vertigo

Frequency not reported: Tachyphylaxis, sudden hearing loss, tinnitus (ototoxic effects resolved 7 to 14 days after discontinuation of the drug)[Ref]

Psychiatric

Common (1% to 10%): Depression/suicidal ideation, insomnia, somnolence

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Anxiety

Frequency not reported: Suicide attempt, suicide, psychosis, anxiety, confusion, emotional lability, anhedonia, psychotic thoughts, mood disturbances, hypersexuality, aggressive behavior, panic attacks[Ref]

Respiratory

Very common (10% or more): Oropharyngeal pain (28%), nasopharyngitis (24%), upper respiratory tract infection (21%), cough (16%), sinusitis (14%)

Common (1% to 10%): Rhinorrhea, bronchitis

Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Dyspnea

Frequency not reported: Pulmonary arterial hypertension[Ref]

Renal

Rare (Less than 0.1%): Nephrotic syndrome, glomerulosclerosis[Ref]

References

1. Product Information. Avonex (interferon beta-1a). Biogen. 2001;PROD.

2. Product Information. Rebif (interferon beta-1a). Serono Laboratories Inc. 2002.

3. Cerner Multum, Inc. UK Summary of Product Characteristics.

4. Cerner Multum, Inc. Australian Product Information.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.