Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Drugs

Drugs Used to Treat Multiple Sclerosis Interferons

Avonex®, Betaseron®  & Rebif®  Interferons

Warnings on the safety of Avonex®, Betaseron® and Rebif ® (interferon beta-1a and interferon beta-1b)

As of March, 2003, Biogen, the makers of Avonex ® (interferon beta-1a), revised their patient and healthcare information data to include additional warnings about the safety of Avonex ®, an interferon drug approved for the treatment of multiple sclerosis; and possible adverse reactions to the drug and / or drug side effects.

Berlex Laboratories and Serono, makers of Betaseron ® and Rebif ® respectively, followed suite and amended their patient and healthcare information data to include warnings on the safety of their products, Betaseron ® (Betaferon ® in Europe) and Rebif ®, both interferons.

Interferon (interferon beta-1a and interferon beta-1b) products may cause serious adverse reactions in some patients.

These include:

  • a cautionary note regarding use in patients with depression and other severe psychiatric symptoms, and post-marketing reports of depression, suicidal ideation and/or development of new or worsening of pre-existing other psychiatric disorders, including psychosis
  • rare reports of anaphylaxis (life threatening allergic reaction) and other allergic reactions, and post-marketing reports of decreased peripheral blood counts (resulting in a reduced ability to fight infection), including pancytopenia (simultaneous decrease in the numbers of red and white blood cells) and thrombocytopenia (reduction in the number of platelets in the blood

Additionally, users of interferon products should be aware of the following:

  • the risk of severe hepatic (liver) injury.
  • Avonex ® associated autoimmune disorders, including autoimmune hepatitis (the body destroying its own liver), and hepatic injury manifesting itself as elevated serum enzyme levels and hepatitis

Click here for further data from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)




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