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Using Interferons for Multiple Sclerosis

Interferons as Multiple Sclerosis Medications

More detailed information about interferon medications is presented in the following sections.
 
Avonex (Interferon Beta-1a)
Avonex is a multiple sclerosis medication taken once a week. Avonex must be injected into a muscle, usually a muscle in the thigh or upper arm. The injection site is changed each week so that the muscles don't get irritated. These injections are usually given in the patient's home by the patient or a family member.
 
Side effects from Avonex include aching and fever (flu-like symptoms). These begin about an hour after the injection and may last 24 to 36 hours. The flu-like symptoms usually improve with aspirin, Tylenol®, or ibuprofen. Blood tests need to be checked on occasion to monitor liver function and white blood cell levels. This medication must be refrigerated.
 
Betaseron and Extavia (Interferon Beta-1b)
Betaseron and Extavia are the same medications, made by the same manufacturer, but marketed and sold by two different manufacturers. They are taken every other day, injected under the skin, usually in the thigh, back of the arm, or abdomen. The injection site is changed with each injection so that the skin doesn't become irritated. These injections are usually given in the patient's home by the patient or a family member. An autoinjector is available to assist with the injections.
Side effects from Betaseron and Extavia include aching and fever (flu-like symptoms). These begin about an hour after the injection and last about eight hours. The flu-like symptoms usually improve with aspirin, Tylenol, or ibuprofen. There is usually a red spot at the site of the injection. This spot may take several weeks to go away. Very rarely, the red spot may form a scar on the skin. Blood tests need to be checked on occasion to monitor liver function and white blood cell levels. This medication does not need to be refrigerated.
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