Multiple Sclerosis Home > Rebif

Rebif is a prescription medication that is licensed for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. It is made using Chinese hamster ovary cells, but is made up of exactly the same amino acids as human interferon. Rebif comes as an injection that is given just under the skin three times a week. Side effects may include redness at the injection site, fatigue, and headaches.

What Is Rebif?

Rebif® (interferon beta-1a) is a prescription multiple sclerosis (MS) medication. It is taken as an injection just under the skin, given three times a week.
 
(Click Rebif Uses for more information, including possible off-label uses.)
 

Who Makes Rebif?

Rebif is made jointly by Serono, Inc. and Pfizer Inc.
 

How Does It Work?

Even though Rebif is made using Chinese hamster ovary cells, it is made up of exactly the same amino acids 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 this medication works to treat MS. Although the exact causes of multiple sclerosis 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. Rebif may work by limiting this immune system response, decreasing the damage to the nerves.
 
Because Rebif is a glycoprotein (made up of proteins and carbohydrates), it would be broken down and destroyed by the digestive system if taken by mouth. For this reason, the drug 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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