What Is Interferon Beta-1a Used For?
Interferon beta-1a is used for treating multiple sclerosis in people with relapsing forms of the disease. Since the medication would be destroyed by the digestive system if taken by mouth, it must either be injected into the muscle or under the skin, depending on the product. Healthcare providers may also recommend off-label interferon beta-1a uses, such as for treating other forms of multiple sclerosis.
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Interferon beta-1a (Avonex®, Rebif®) is a prescription medication approved for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (also known as MS). As with other interferons, interferon beta-1a must be given by injection. Avonex is injected into the muscle once a week, while Rebif is injected subcutaneously (just under the skin) three times a week.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system, affecting the brain and spinal cord. MS is the leading cause of disability among young adults. There are four basic patterns of multiple sclerosis. The most common is relapsing-remitting MS, which consists of episodes of symptoms that last for days or weeks, followed by a period of no symptoms for weeks or months. A less common pattern is progressive MS, a steady worsening of symptoms from the first sign of illness. The two other main forms of multiple sclerosis include secondary-progressive and progressive-relapsing. Interferon beta-1a is approved for the treatment of multiple sclerosis in people with relapsing forms of the disease.
Early on in the disease process, symptoms of multiple sclerosis include:
- Fatigue (see Multiple Sclerosis Fatigue)
- Tingling or numbness
- Loss of balance
- Blurred or double vision and/or eye pain
- Muscle weakness.
As the disease worsens, other possible symptoms include:
- Depression (see Multiple Sclerosis and Depression)
- Loss of bladder control
- Muscle stiffness, also known as spasticity (see Spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis)
- Memory loss.
It is important to understand that the multiple sclerosis prognosis can vary widely and that a multiple sclerosis diagnosis does not necessarily lead to a shorter life or to a life of disability. Not only are there treatments to help manage the symptoms, but there are several new multiple sclerosis medications that actually alter the course of the disease. Interferon beta-1a is one of these medications.