Understanding Who Can Take Avonex and How It Works
Avonex is identical to a human interferon. Interferons are naturally occurring proteins or glycoproteins (proteins attached to carbohydrates). In humans, interferons are produced by cells in response to certain situations (such as viral infections) and often play a key role in the immune system. It is not fully understood how Avonex works to treat MS. Although the exact causes of MS are not known, it is often considered to be an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks and destroys the protective coating around nerve fibers. It is thought that Avonex may work by limiting this immune system response, decreasing the damage to the nerves.
Because Avonex is a glycoprotein (made up of protein and carbohydrate), it would be digested and inactivated by the digestive system if taken by mouth. For this reason, Avonex must be injected to bypass the digestive tract.
Avonex is not approved for individuals under 18 years old. Talk to your healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of using Avonex in children or teens.
On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend Avonex for something other than treating relapsing MS. This is called an "off-label" use. At this time, using Avonex to treat a type of MS other than a relapsing form is considered an off-label Avonex use.