Compare Betaseron vs. Gilenya

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

(Interferon Beta-1B)


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.Treats relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. Gilenya (Fingolimod) is an oral medication that has a lot of side effects, but it reduces the number of flare-ups, slows physical changes, and decreases the number of new brain lesions in relapsing MS.
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Reviews & ratings
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Reviews for Gilenya (Fingolimod)
13% vs. Betaseron (Interferon Beta-1B)
15% vs. Betaseron (Interferon Beta-1B)
+10% vs. Betaseron (Interferon Beta-1B)
Side effects
  • Low white blood cells 12%
More Betaseron side effects »
  • Alt/ast increased 9%
  • Diarrhea 5%
  • Back pain 5%
  • Ggt increased 4%
  • Bronchitis 4%
  • Migraine 4%
  • Vission blurred 3%
  • Abnormally slow heartbeat 3%
  • Influenza viral infections 3%
  • Tinea infections 3%
More Gilenya side effects »
How it works
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.Gilenya (Fingolimod) is an immune modulator. Researchers don't know exactly how it works, but it seems to stop your white blood cells from attacking the nerves in your brain and spinal cord.
Type of medication
Multiple Sclerosis treatment
Prescription only
Multiple sclerosis treatment, Immunosuppressant
Prescription only
Available as
  • Injection
  • Pill
Used for (click to learn more)
Risk factors for serious side effects
  • 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 »
        • Taking with drugs that slow heart rate
        • History of heart problems
          • Taking other immunosuppressant drugs
          • Age 60 or older
          • Weak immune system
          • Diabetes
          • History of eye inflammation (uveitis)
          • Women of childbearing age
          • History of respiratory problems
          • History of liver problems
          Detailed Gilenya (Fingolimod) risks & warnings »
          Pregnancy category
          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
          • 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.
          No specific alcohol-related info.
          No specific food-related info.
          • Take one capsule daily with or without food.
          Kidneys and liver
          No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
          No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
          No specific sleep-related info.No specific sleep-related info.
          No specific weight-related info.No specific weight-related info.
          Upsides and benefits
          • 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).
          • Gilenya (Fingolimod) is the first once-daily pill you can take for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS).
          • Studies show it lowers relapse rates better than placebo and Avonex, and it delays the progression of physical disabilites better than placebo.
          • Gilenya also reduced the number of new MS lesions better than Avonex.
          Downsides and risks
          • 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.
          • Taking more than the 0.5 mg dose won't give more benefits, but will only cause more side effects.
          • Gilenya can remain in your blood for up to 2 months after you stop taking it. Your immune response won't work as well during this time.
          • Not the best choice if you've had a heart attack, stroke, or have been in the hospital for heart failure in the past 6 months. The risk of serious heart rate effects is higher when taken with certain drugs (methadone, erythromycin, citalopram, ketoconazole) or if you have low potassium or magnesium.
          • If you have to re-start Gilenya after stopping it for 2 weeks or more, you'll have to take your first dose at your doctor's office again.
          • If you didn't get chicken pox and never had a vaccination, you'll need to be vaccinated and wait one month before starting Gilenya.
          Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
          • 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.
          • Take one capsule daily with or without food.
          • It's very important you read the Gilenya Medication Guide. Don't change your dose or stop the medicine without asking your doctor.
          • You'll need to be watched for at least 6 hours in a doctor's office after taking your first dose because it can cause serious heart rate and blood pressure problems.
          • Gilenya increases your risk of infections. Get blood tests 6 months before starting treatment.
          • Use effective birth control or plan to stop Gilenya 2 months before getting pregnant. If you do become pregnant while on Gilenya (Fingolimod), you'll need to enroll in the Gilenya pregnancy registry.
          • Tell your doctor if you've had any vaccines recently. Don't get any live vaccines while taking Gilenya.
          • Your doctor will monitor your eyes, lungs, and liver for up to 2 months after stopping Gilenya.
          Learn more
          More about BetaseronSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
          More about GilenyaSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert