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Beta-interferon-1b - Patient Information



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Patient Information For:
  • Interferon beta-1b

Brand Name
  • Betaseron®

What it is
  • "Betaseron" is a self-injectable medication and was the first disease modifying medication approved for treating multiple sclerosis. The active ingredient, interferon beta-1b, is similar to the active ingredient in Avonex® and Rebif®, interferon beta-1a, but is different and should not be interchanged. Betaseron“ is sometimes referred to as one of the “injectables” or “A, B, C therapy.”

What it does
  • Reduces the number of relapses
  • Slows the accumulation of physical disability

How it works
  • Interferon beta-1b is a naturally occurring protein that is usually produced in response to certain infections. Its role, though, is thought to be more of a regulatory one, keeping the immune system in check. It alters the way in which certain white blood cells, T-cells, respond to “foreign” material.

How it’s given
  • Betaseron® is available in a vial containing powder and comes with a vial of sodium chloride solution (the diluent) so it must be prepared and drawn up before injecting.
                o You will be instructed on this procedure by your physician or a nurse when starting therapy and will be given prescriptions for supplies when necessary and instruction on what additional materials you will need for this procedure.
  • Dose: increased slowly to 0.25 mg every other day
        o Approximately 48 hrs apart so the same time every day is best.
        o Dose is slowly increased to reduce side effects

                        Percentage of final dose    Dose of Betaseron®    Volume
    Weeks 1-2    25%                                    0.0625 mg                0.25 ml
    Weeks 3-4    50%                                    0.125 mg                    0.5 ml
    Weeks 5-6    75%                                    0.1875 mg                0.75 ml
    Weeks 7+    100%                                    0.25 mg                        1 ml

    • Betaseron® is injected subcutaneously (under the skin)
    • A nurse or your physician should show you how to inject this medication.
                o You should review the information provided for you when you begin Betaseron® therapy and with each refill.
                o Your first, self-administered dose should be done under the direct supervision of an appropriately qualified health care practitioner.
                        - After the injection, dispose the syringe into a hard-welled container.

  • Betaseron® powder and diluent should be stored in the original container and at room temperature, preferably 77oF (25oC), definitely within 59-86oF or 15-30oC.
                o After mixing, the solution should be used right away.
                    - If you do not use it right away, it should be stored under refrigeration (36-46oF or 2-8oC) and must be used within 3 hours of mixing.
                o Always discard unused portions even if you are only using part of a vial.
                o Betaseron® should NEVER be stored in the freezer.
                o Betaseron® is sensitive to light, meaning that it will degrade with excessive exposure, so you should always protect the powder and                 diluent or prepared solution from direct light until its time to mix or inject it.

General Injection Information

  • Always wash and dry your hands before and after injecting.
  • Never inject into the same area on your body more than once a week.
  • Acceptable sites
                o stomach, arm, thigh, hip
                        - Chose a site that is at least 2 inches from the last site of injection.

Possible Side Effects
  • Flu-like symptoms: fever, chills, fatigue, muscle aches
  • Dizziness, headache
  • Pain, redness, swelling, and irritation at the injection site
  • Depression, mood changes, anxiety
  • Liver damage: pain in the upper, right area of your torso, yellow coloring of skin and eyes
  • Thyroid changes: feeling hot or cold all of the time or weight change without a change in your diet or activity are common symptoms
  • Blood disorders such as anemia or easy bruising or abnormal bleeding

  • Do not stop taking this medication or change the dose or dosing schedule without speaking with your physician.
                o Always call your refills in to your pharmacy before you are out of medication to avoid any disruption in therapy.
  • This medication should not be used if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

                o Always use birth control to prevent pregnancy while on this medication and speak with your physician or pharmacist before breastfeeding while on this medication.

                        - For information about birth control options, speak with your physician or pharmacist.

  • If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, fatigue, muscle aches) you can try taking some over-the-counter medications to prevent this. Check with your pharmacist or physician before taking these.
                o Tylenol® (acetaminophen) or Advil® (ibuprofen)
  • Taking this medication may make you more susceptible to infections so you should avoid contact with sick people and wash your hands often.
  • If you miss a dose of your medication, take it as soon as you remember
                o Betaseron®: you should skip the next day if you are scheduled to take it. It should not be taken on 2 consecutive days. You can resume your normal schedule the following week.
  • Always have your blood checked when scheduled by your physician.
  • Talk to your health care provider before receiving any vaccines.

                o Some vaccines you should avoid while others may not work while on this medication.

When to contact your healthcare provider
If you are experiencing:

  • Chest tightness, trouble breathing, wheezing
  • Rash, hives or severe itching
  • Swelling of face, lips, tongue or throat
  • High fever, severe sore throat or any other signs of infection
  • Fast heartbeat, sweating, confusion
  • Signs and symptoms of depression or any thoughts of suicide
  • If you were told you have liver damage or you think you may be having symptoms of liver toxicity: pain in the upper, right area of your torso, yellow coloring of skin and eyes (jaundice) or itching.
                o Other non-specific symptoms include: fatigue, weakness, abdominal pain, loss of appetite
  • You should not become pregnant or breastfeed an infant while using this medication.
                o Contact your physician if you are or if you think you may be or if you would like to become pregnant or breastfeed an infant.

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