Multiple Sclerosis Home > Betaseron

Betaseron is a multiple sclerosis (MS) medication that is available by prescription. It comes as an injection and is injected just under the skin every other day. Clinical studies show that people who took the drug experienced fewer MS relapses and had fewer lesions after two years of taking it. While most people tolerate the medication well, potential side effects include weakness, headaches, and flu-like symptoms.

What Is Betaseron?

Betaseron® (interferon beta-1b) is a prescription medication approved for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). It is injected subcutaneously (just under the skin) every other day.
(Click Betaseron Uses for more information on what the drug is used for, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes It?

Betaseron is made by Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals.

How Does Betaseron Work?

Even though Betaseron is made using bacteria, it is almost exactly the same as 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.
At this time, it is not fully understood how Betaseron 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 Betaseron may work by limiting this immune system response, decreasing the damage to the nerves.
Because Betaseron is a protein, it would be broken down and destroyed by the digestive system if taken by mouth. For this reason, the medication must be injected to bypass the digestive tract.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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