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interferon beta-1a (cont.)

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using interferon beta-1a (Avonex, Avonex Prefilled Syringe, Rebif)?

Do not use this medication if you are allergic to interferons or human albumin.

Some patients using interferon medications have become very depressed or had thoughts of suicide. Stop using interferon beta-1a if you have symptoms of depression (sadness, crying, loss of interest in things you once liked) or if you have any thoughts of hurting yourself.

If you have any of these other conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests:

  • liver disease;
  • epilepsy or other seizure disorder;
  • heart disease, chest pain (angina), congestive heart failure, or a heart rhythm disorder;
  • a thyroid disorder; or
  • a history of depression or suicidal behavior.

FDA pregnancy category C. This medication may be harmful to an unborn baby, or may cause a miscarriage. Do not use interferon beta-1a if you are pregnant. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.

It is not known whether interferon beta-1a passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Avonex powder contains albumin, but the Avonex prefilled syringe does not. Albumin comes from human plasma (part of the blood) and may contain viruses and other infectious agents that can cause disease. Although donated human plasma is screened, tested, and treated to reduce the risk of it containing anything that could cause disease, there is still a small possibility it could transmit disease. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of using this medication.

How should I use interferon beta-1a (Avonex, Avonex Prefilled Syringe, Rebif)?

Avonex is injected into a muscle. It is usually given once weekly at bedtime, on the same day each week (such as every Monday). Follow your doctor's instructions.

Rebif is injected under the skin. It is usually given 3 times per week (such as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) at the same time on each dosing day. Follow your doctor's instructions.

You may be shown how to use injections at home. Do not self-inject this medicine if you do not fully understand how to give the injection and properly dispose of used needles and syringes.

This medication comes with patient instructions for safe and effective use. Follow these directions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

Use a different place on your body each time you give the injection. Your care provider will show you the best places on your body to inject the medication. Do not inject into the same place two times in a row.

The powder form of Avonex must be mixed with a liquid (diluent) in the medicine vial. Gently swirl but do not shake the vial after mixing the medicine. The mixture should be clear or light yellow. Do not use the mixture if it has changed colors or has any particles in it. Mix a new dose or call your doctor for a new prescription.

Do not draw your dose into a syringe until you are ready to give yourself an injection.

Each prefilled syringe or single use vial (bottle) of this medicine is for one use only. Throw away after one use, even if there is still some medicine left after injecting your dose.

Use each disposable needle only one time. Throw away used needles in a puncture-proof container (ask your pharmacist where you can get one and how to dispose of it). Keep this container out of the reach of children and pets.

Interferon beta-1 can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections. This can make it easier for you to bleed from an injury or get sick from being around others who are ill. Your blood may need to be tested often. Your liver or thyroid function may also need to be tested. Visit your doctor regularly.

Store interferon beta-1a in a refrigerator. Do not freeze. You may take the Avonex prefilled syringe out of the refrigerator and allow it to reach room temperature before giving the injection. Do not heat the medicine before using.

Interferon beta-1a may be kept at room temperature for short periods if protected from light. Avonex powder or Rebif prefilled syringes can be stored at room temperature for up to 30 days. Avonex prefilled syringes can be stored at room temperature for only 7 days.

After mixing Avonex powder with a diluent, store in the refrigerator and use it within 6 hours.

Throw away any interferon beta-1a that has become frozen or has been exposed to light or high heat.

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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