Lowers the frequency of multiple sclerosis exacerbations. Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) is an injectable medicine effective for relapsing, remitting MS and has manageable side effects and weekly dosing.
How it works
Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) is an interferon that acts like the ones your body naturally makes. Researchers don't know exactly how it works, but interferons activate your immune system to control immune responses that have gotten out of control.
› Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) can cause serious liver injury with the risk increasing during the first 6 months after you start. You'll need to have your liver enzymes tested at 1, 3, and 6 months. If liver enzymes are significantly elevated and you have appetite/weight loss, stomach discomfort, vomiting, and notice dark urine, yellowing of skin/eyes, change in stool color, and skin rash, you should stop taking Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) until your doctor decides if it's safe to re-start.
Upsides and benefits
› One of the main treatments for relapsing MS that has been around for many years.
› Injections are given weekly, and not daily like other MS medications.
› Helps reduce the frequency of MS relapse episodes.
› Flu-like reactions are the most common side effects and usually go away with continued treatment or can be avoided by using over-the-counter pain and fever-reducing medicines before the injection (like acetaminophen or ibuprofen).
Downsides and risks
› Injection site reactions are common, ranging from localized pain, redness, and swelling to severe skin dryness.
› Flu-like symptoms are common after interferon injections.
› It's not clear what type of problems occur if taken during pregnancy.
› Blood testing is required before and during use of Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A).
› May not be as effective as other interferons.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
› Inject yourself once a week in your muscle (you need to go deeper than the fat layer between your skin and muscle).
› Refrigerate the powder and pre-filled syringes and pens.
› Don't shake the medicine once it is taken out of the refrigerator or mixed.
› If using the pre-filled syringes, the tiny air bubbles won't hurt you.
› Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) can cause flu-like symptoms (headache, fever, muscle pain) right after injections, lasting minutes or hours.
› Flu-like reactions usually go away with repeated treatments. Taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen 45 minutes before the injection can reduce the uncomfortable feeling.