Rebif (interferon beta-1a)

Rebif ® is an interferon beta indicated for the treatment of patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). It is an antiviral, disease-modifying drug (DMD). It is administered by subcutaneous injection (under the skin). Interferon is a group of glycoproteins produced naturally in the body in response to viral infections. Rebif is intended to reduce the frequency and severity of relapses. This results in a delay of further physical disability.

Rebif is injected three times a week. It should be administered, if possible, at the same time, preferably in the late afternoon or evening, on the same three days each week, with doses at least 48 hours apart.

What are the ingredients in Rebif?

The active ingredient in Rebif is interferon beta-1a.

How does Rebif work?

The way Rebif works is not well understood. It is thought to act by reducing inflammation and the immune response that attacks the body’s myelin.

What are the possible side effects of Rebif?

Many clinical trials evaluated the safety and efficacy of Rebif. The most common side effects experienced by those taking Rebif include:

  • Injection site reactions
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Abdominal pain
  • Depression
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Blood count abnormalities
  • Nausea
  • Backache
  • Muscle ache

Flu-like symptoms can generally be treated with over-the-counter pain relief medications.

This is not an exhaustive list of all potential side effects of Rebif. For more information, consult your doctor or healthcare provider. If you notice any new or worsening side effects when taking Rebif, contact your doctor or healthcare provider immediately.

Things to note about Rebif

Rebif is a sterile liquid that contains no preservatives and comes in a glass prefilled syringe or Rebidose autoinjector. It should be stored in the refrigerator and protected from light. Once removed from the refrigerator, it should be allowed to warm to room temperature (about 30 minutes) prior to injection.

Before starting Rebif, talk with your doctor if you:

  • Have a history of hypersensitivity to natural or recombinant interferon beta or human albumin, or any other component of the formulation
  • Have a history of depression or suicidal ideation. Any new symptoms of depression, suicidal ideation, and/or psychosis should be reported immediately to your doctor.
  • Have hepatic (liver) injury
  • Have a history of anaphylaxis
  • Experience injection site reactions
  • Have low blood counts
  • Have Thrombotic Microangiopathy (damage to small blood vessels in vital organs)
  • Have a history of seizures
  • Are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, as there is limited information on the use of Rebif in pregnancy. It should be used only if the potential benefit of Rebif therapy exceeds risk to the fetus.
  • Experience development of new autoimmune disorders

Individuals with the above conditions should be monitored closely while taking Rebif.

Dosing information

Rebif is administered by subcutaneous injection with a recommended dosage of 22 or 44 micrograms injected 3 times per week. Rebif is titrated, generally starting with a dose of 20% of the prescribed dose. It is increased over a 4-week period. It comes in a titration pack containing 6 doses of 8.8 mcg (0.2 mL) and 6 doses of 22 mcg (0.5 mL) in either prefilled syringes or Rebidose autoinjectors. For a 22 mcg prescribed dose, the scheduled titration is 4.4mcg in week 1 and 2, 11mcg in week 3 and 4 and a full dose of 22 mcg week 5 and afterwards. Unused portions of Rebif should be discarded.
For a full 44 mcg prescribed dose, the scheduled titration is 8.8 mcg in week 1 and 2, 22 mcg in week 3 and 4 and a full dose of 44 mcg week 5 and afterwards.

A healthcare professional should train patients or caregivers in the proper technique for administering subcutaneous injections. Typical injection sites are the abdomen, back of the upper arm, and thigh. Sites should be rotated to minimize the chance of injection site reactions. Injections should not be administered where the skin is bruised, irritated or red, infected, or scarred. Safe disposal practices should be used for needles and syringes.

Pain and fever reducing medication can be taken on treatment days to help reduce any flu-like symptoms.

For additional details, read the full prescribing information of Rebif.

Written by: Jonathan Simmons | Last reviewed: May 2015.
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