Precautions and Warnings With Interferon Beta-1b
There are numerous precautions and warnings with interferon beta-1b to be aware of, including information on who should not take the drug and possible side effects that may occur. Interferon beta-1b could cause liver damage, increase the risk of depression, and decrease blood counts in some people. To help minimize risks, tell your healthcare provider about any medical conditions you have before using interferon beta-1b.
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You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking interferon beta-1b (Betaseron®, Extavia®) if you have:
- A blood disorder, such as anemia or low blood counts of any kind
- Liver disease, such as liver failure, cirrhosis, or hepatitis
- Depression or other mood disorders
- Congestive heart failure (CHF)
- A seizure disorder or epilepsy
- Thyroid problems
- Any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
You should also be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking interferon beta-1b include the following:
- Rarely, interferon beta-1b can cause dangerous allergic reactions. Report any symptoms of an allergic reaction (such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, itching, hives, and swelling) immediately to your healthcare provider.
- Interferon medications (including interferon beta-1b) may increase the risk of depression (see Betaseron and Depression or Extavia and Depression). Make sure your healthcare provider knows if you have depression or another mood disorder (such as bipolar disorder or manic depression) or if your depression seems to worsen while you are taking interferon beta-1b.
- Let your healthcare provider know if you develop an open sore or an infection at the injection site. You may have to stop taking interferon beta-1b in some cases.
- Interferon beta-1b can affect your liver function and, in rare cases, can cause liver damage. Check with your healthcare provider before taking interferon beta-1b if you have liver disease of any kind. Your healthcare provider should monitor your liver enzymes (using a simple blood test) before you start the drug and periodically thereafter.
- Interferon beta-1b can decrease blood counts in some people, leading to low white blood cells (which increases the risk of infection), anemia, low platelets (which increases the risk of bleeding), or other problems. Your healthcare provider should make sure you do not develop these problems by using a simple blood test.
- Interferon beta-1b contains human albumin, which could theoretically transmit viruses or other infectious diseases (since it comes from human blood). However, there has never been such a case of infection being passed through albumin.
- Let your healthcare provider know if you have a seizure disorder or thyroid problems, as interferon beta-1b may make these problems worse.
- There have been a few cases of worsening of congestive heart failure with this medication or other similar medications. If you have CHF and your symptoms worsen, contact your healthcare provider for further advice.
- Interferon beta-1b can interact with a few other medications (see Drug Interactions With Interferon Beta-1b for more information).
- Interferon beta-1b is considered a pregnancy Category C medication. This means that it may not be safe to take during pregnancy. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of using interferon beta-1b during pregnancy (see Betaseron and Pregnancy or Extavia and Pregnancy).
- It is not known whether interferon beta-1b passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Betaseron and Breastfeeding or Extavia and Pregnancy).