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All about: Interferon Beta-1a

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Generic Name: Interferon Beta-1a Subcutaneous Injection (in-ter-FEER-on BAY-tah)
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

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

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, heart disease, seizures, alcohol abuse or dependence, 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 side effects on the liver 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 additional patient information sheet called a Medication Guide. Read it carefully and reread it each time you get Interferon Beta-1a refilled.
  • Interferon Beta-1a may be administered as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. If you are using Interferon Beta-1a at home, carefully follow the injection procedures taught to you by your health care provider.
  • If Interferon Beta-1a contains particles or is discolored, or if the vial is cracked or damaged in any way, do not use it.
  • Use the proper technique taught to you by your doctor. Inject Interferon Beta-1a deep under the skin, NOT into a muscle.
  • 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. Dispose of properly after use. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain local regulations for proper 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 this medicine. If you begin to feel depressed or suicidal, contact your doctor.
  • Drinking alcohol may increase the risk of side effects on the liver from Interferon Beta-1a . Talk to your doctor before drinking 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 CONTAINS ALBUMIN, which comes from human blood. There is an extremely rare risk of developing a viral disease or a central nervous system disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. No cases of viral disease or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from albumin have been identified.
  • LAB TESTS, including blood cell counts, liver function tests, and thyroid function tests, may be performed to monitor your progress or to check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Use Interferon Beta-1a with caution in the ELDERLY because they may be more sensitive to its effects.
  • Use Interferon Beta-1a with extreme caution in CHILDREN. Safety and effectiveness have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: Interferon Beta-1a may cause harm to the fetus. If you think you may be pregnant, discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of using Interferon Beta-1a during pregnancy. It is unknown if Interferon Beta-1a is excreted in breast milk. If you are or will be breast-feeding while you are using Interferon Beta-1a , check with your doctor or pharmacist to discuss the 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; flu-like symptoms (eg, headache, tiredness, fever, chills, back pain, muscle aches, weakness); pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site; 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, or tongue); change in vision; chest pain; dark urine; depression; easy bruising or bleeding; extreme tiredness or weakness; fast or irregular heartbeat; feeling cold or hot all the time; infection at the injection site; seizures; suicidal thoughts or behaviors; unexplained change in weight; yellowing of the eyes or skin.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions or need medical advice about side effects, contact your doctor or health care provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 (1-800-332-1088) or at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center ( http://www.aapcc.org/findyour.htm), 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 and light. 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.

This information is a summary only. It does not contain all information about Interferon Beta-1a . If you have questions about the medicine you are taking or would like more information, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.

Issue Date: September 5, 2007
Database Edition 07.3.1.003
Copyright © 2007 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

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