Prescription onlyNo lower cost generic available

Betaseron

(Interferon Beta-1B)

  • Injection
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Lowers the frequency of MS exacerbations.

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Prescription onlyNo lower cost generic available

Our pharmacists’ bottom line

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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  • 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).
  • 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.

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Side effects for Betaseron (Interferon Beta-1B)

From clinical trials of Betaseron / Multiple Sclerosis ( 2372)

  • Lymphocytes count decreased (<1500/mm3)Lymphocytes count decreased (<1500/mm3)66% for Betaseron vs.86% for placebo
  • Muscle weaknessMuscle weakness48% for Betaseron vs.53% for placebo
  • ImmunogenicityImmunogenicity45% for Betaseron vs.0% for placebo
  • HeadacheHeadache43% for Betaseron vs.50% for placebo
  • Flu-like symptoms (complex)Flu-like symptoms (complex)37% for Betaseron vs.56% for placebo
  • PainPain35% for Betaseron vs.42% for placebo
  • Stiff or rigid musclesStiff or rigid muscles33% for Betaseron vs.40% for placebo
  • Injection site reactionInjection site reaction26% for Betaseron vs.78% for placebo
  • FeverFever19% for Betaseron vs.31% for placebo
  • Low white blood cellsLow white blood cells18% for Betaseron vs.6% for placebo

Manufacturers don’t say how common these side effects are

  • Injection site necrosis

What to expect when you take Betaseron (Interferon Beta-1B)

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Tips from our pharmacists
  • 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.

Risks and Warnings for Betaseron (Interferon Beta-1B)

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    • Higher risk if:
    • Alcohol use
    • Taking drugs that are liver toxic
    • Active or history of liver disease

    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.

Means that some groups have a high risk of experiencing this side effect

Tips from pharmacists and people taking Betaseron (Interferon Beta-1B)

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The FDA category for this medication is C. It is advised that you: Weigh risks vs. benefits
Pregnancy
Alcohol
  • Risks from our pharmacists
  • 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.