Compare Avonex vs. Betaseron

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Avonex
(Interferon Beta-1A)

Betaseron
(Interferon Beta-1B)

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.Lowers the frequency of MS exacerbations. Betaseron (Interferon Beta-1B) is an injectable medicine effective for relapsing, remitting MS with fewer side effects and every other day dosing.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
3.5625Avonex
Reviews for Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A)
38%
of people say Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) is worth it
25%
say it works well
34%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Betaseron (Interferon Beta-1B)
55%
+17% vs. Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A)
45%
+20% vs. Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A)
40%
6% vs. Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A)
Side effects
AvonexBetaseron
  • Flu-like symptoms 20%
  • Chills 14%
  • Fever 11%
  • Muscle pain 7%
  • Muscle weakness 6%
  • Nausea 4%
  • Injuction site inflammation 4%
  • Low mood disorder 4%
  • Infection 3%
  • Chest pain 3%
More Avonex side effects »
  • Low white blood cells 12%
More Betaseron side effects »
How it works
AvonexBetaseron
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.Betaseron (Interferon Beta-1B) is a man-made interferon that's similar to what your body naturally makes. Researchers don't know exactly how it works for MS, but interferons activate your own immune system to control immune responses that have gone out of control.
Type of medication
AvonexBetaseron
Multiple sclerosis treatment
Immunomodulator
Prescription only
Multiple Sclerosis treatment
Immunomodulator
Prescription only
Available as
AvonexBetaseron
  • Injection
  • Injection
Used for (click to learn more)
AvonexBetaseron
Risk factors for serious side effects
AvonexBetaseron
  • History of depression or mental illness
  • Allergy to albumin
  • Prolonged use of Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A)
  • Alcohol use
  • Taking drugs that are liver toxic
  • History of liver disease
    • History of heart disease
        • History of seizures
        • Women of childbearing age
          Detailed Avonex (Interferon Beta-1A) risks & warnings »
          • Alcohol use
          • Taking drugs that are liver toxic
          • Active or history of liver disease
            • History of depression or mental illness
            • History of or current heart disease
              • Women of childbearing age
              • Not changing injection sites
              • Bone marrow suppression
                Detailed Betaseron (Interferon Beta-1B) risks & warnings »
                Pregnancy category
                AvonexBetaseron
                CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

                Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

                See the FDA package insert
                CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

                Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

                See the FDA package insert
                Alcohol
                No specific alcohol-related info.
                • People taking Betaseron (Interferon Beta-1B) had liver injury and failure, some due to autoimmune hepatitis. There's a higher risk if you're taking medications or substances (e.g. alcohol) that hurt your liver. Talk to your doctor if you develop symptoms of nausea, vomiting, belly pain, tiredness, loss of appetite, or you notice yellowing of your skin/whites of eyes or dark urine, change in stool color, or skin rash. Betaseron (Interferon Beta-1B). Betaseron (Interferon Beta-1B) can cause elevated liver enzymes with no symptoms. If levels increase significantly, your doctor may lower your dose or stop Betaseron (Interferon Beta-1B) completely.
                Food
                No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
                Kidneys and liver
                No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
                Sex
                No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
                Sleep
                No specific sleep-related info.No specific sleep-related info.
                Weight
                • 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.
                No specific weight-related info.
                Upsides and benefits
                AvonexBetaseron
                • 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).
                • Interferon beta-1b was the first disease modifying agent for MS approved by the FDA to treat relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS).
                • In short and long-term follow-up studies, Interferon beta-1b was shown to slow MS progression, reduce the number of flair-ups and increase overall survival.
                • Convenient every-other-day dosing and refrigeration-free storage (before mixing) is less of a hassle.
                • Interferon beta-1b has been shown to be more effective than Avonex in reducing new lesions, which lowers relapse and disease progression in people with RRMS.
                • May be a treatment option for people with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS).
                Downsides and risks
                AvonexBetaseron
                • 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.
                • Requires injections.
                • Injection site reactions are common. Symptoms range from pain, redness, and swelling to severe reactions with skin death around the injection site.
                • Flu-like symptoms are common after interferon injections, but are less likely with Interferon beta-1b in particular.
                • Blood testing required before and during use based on your other conditions.
                • Unclear consequences to fetus during pregnancy.
                Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
                AvonexBetaseron
                • 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.
                • Every-other-day injections to the fatty layer under your skin.
                • Store the powder for reconstitution at room temperature.
                • Don't shake the medicine after reconstitution.
                • Can cause flu-like symptoms (headache, fever, muscle pain) right after injections lasting minutes or hours.
                • Flu-like reactions usually goes away with repeated treatments, or taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen 45 minutes before the injection to reduce the uncomfortable feeling.
                • Injection site reactions can be common, including swelling, redness, pain, and rarely death of surrounding skin tissues.
                Learn more
                More about AvonexSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
                More about BetaseronSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert