Avonex

Generic Name: Interferon beta-1a

  • What is Avonex?

    Avonex is a medicine used for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis. Avonex will not cure multiple sclerosis, but can decrease the number of flare-ups and slow the occurrence of some of the physical disability of this disease. Avonex is administered intramuscularly (injected into the muscle).

  • What is the most important information I should know about Avonex?

    Some patients treated with interferons, including Avonex, have experienced depression. Tell your doctor immediately if you are feeling sad, low, bad about yourself, hopeless, or feel like hurting yourself.

    Avonex can cause liver problems. Your doctor will monitor your blood regularly to make sure that your liver is working properly. If your skin or the whites of your eyes become yellow or if you are bruising easily, you should tell your doctor immediately.

    Avonex can harm your unborn baby if you use it while you are pregnant. If you become pregnant, stop using this medication and tell your doctor.

    Avonex can cause severe allergic reactions leading to difficulty breathing. Less severe reactions such as rash, itching, skin bumps, or swelling of your mouth and tongue can also occur. Tell your doctor immediately if you feel that you are having an allergic reaction to Avonex.

    Avonex can decrease your level of blood cells that fight infections, red blood cells, or cells that help to form blood clots. This can lessen your ability to fight infections, make you feel tired or sluggish, or cause you to bleed easily.

    Some people experience seizures while taking Avonex. If you experience this, stop taking Avonex and tell your doctor immediately.

    Some people using Avonex can develop heart problems. Tell your doctor immediately if you experience swollen ankles, shortness of breath, decreased ability to exercise, fast heartbeat, tightness in your chest, increased need to urinate at night, or inability to lay flat in bed.

  • Who should not take Avonex?

    Do not use Avonex if you are allergic to it, any of its ingredients, or albumin (human).

  • What should I tell my doctor before I take the first dose of Avonex?

    Tell your doctor about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with Avonex. Also, talk to your doctor about your complete medical history, especially if you have a mental illness (including depression, anxiety, or trouble sleeping), thyroid gland problems, blood problems (such as bleeding or bruising easily), seizures, heart problems, liver disease, or if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

  • What is the usual dosage?

    The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your doctor uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your doctor may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your doctor's approval.

    Adults: The recommended dose is 30 micrograms (mcg) once a week.

  • How should I take Avonex?

    Your doctor will decide when you, a family member, or friend can inject this medication. Your doctor will instruct you and/or your caregiver in how to properly prepare and inject your dose of Avonex.

    It is important that you rotate your injection site each time you inject Avonex. Always use a new, unopened Avonex vial or prefilled syringe for each injection. Do not reuse the vials or syringes.

    Please review the instructions that came with your prescription on how to properly prepare and inject Avonex.

  • What should I avoid while taking Avonex?

    Do not become pregnant while you are using Avonex.

    Do not inject Avonex into an area of your body where the skin is irritated, reddened, bruised, infected, or scarred.

  • What are possible food and drug interactions associated with Avonex?

    No significant interactions have been reported with Avonex at this time. However, always tell your doctor about any medicines you take, including over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

  • What are the possible side effects of Avonex?

    Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this drug.

    Side effects may include: allergic reactions, anxiety, bleeding, bruising easily, chest tightness, depression, fast heartbeat, feeling cold or hot, feeling emotional, "flu-like" symptoms (such as chills, fever, muscle aches, sweating, tiredness), increased urination, infections, injection-site reactions, seizures, shortness of breath, swelling, thyroid problems, tiredness, weight changes, yellowing of your skin or whites of your eyes

  • Can I receive Avonex if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

    Avonex can harm your unborn baby if you use it while you are pregnant. Do not become pregnant while you are using Avonex. The effects of Avonex during breastfeeding are unknown. Tell your doctor immediately if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

  • What should I do if I miss a dose of Avonex?

    If you miss a dose of Avonex, inject it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the one you missed and return to your regular dosing schedule. Do not inject two doses at once.

  • How should I store Avonex?

    Store in the refrigerator. Do not expose to extreme temperatures. Protect from light.

    Once Avonex syringes are removed from the refrigerator, allow syringes to warm to room temperature. Avonex syringes can be stored at room temperature for up to 7 days.

    Avonex vials can be stored at room temperature for up to 30 days.