The third of the Interferon beta medications is called Betaseron. It is used to treat the remitting types and secondary progressive type of Multiple Sclerosis.
While Betaseron is an Interferon beta drug, it has a different classification than Avonox and Rebif. Betaseron works differently that the other two, as well. This medication blocks T-cells from attacking myelin and reduces the amount of a protein called cytokines. Cytokines activates the immune system, which in people in MS can cause a flare up.
This medication is administered through a subcutaneous injection every other day. The typical dosage is 250 mcg per injection.
Betaseron will be dispensed by the pharmacy in three parts, a pre-filled diluting syringe, a vial adapter with needle attached and a vial of powdered medication. You will use one of these three part sets for each injection. This means Betaseron does not need to be refrigerated, and easy to take along with you when you travel.
As with all current medications for Multiple Sclerosis, Betaseron has serious side effects, and the potential to cause liver failure.
Depression is one of the most common side effects of Betaseron. Those using this medication should talk with their doctor about any signs of depression or thoughts of suicide. If you, or a family member, caregiver or friend notices depression, you should notify your doctor right away.
Some people have severe allergic reactions to Betaseron. Anaphylaxis is one of the known allergic reactions, if you notice difficulty breathing or swallowing call for emergency medical assistance immediately. Other allergic reactions include swelling, hives, and swelling of the mouth and tongue.
As with any injected medication, injection site irritation is always possible
Betaseron is given in graduated dosing. Patients start with a small dose and, over time, work up to the full dose. This increasing dosing schedule helps to reduce the side effects of muscle pain, fever, fatigue, and chills that are common with Interferon beta drugs. While these flu like side effects do still occur with Betaseron, their frequency is greatly reduced.
Deciding which, if any, disease altering medication to use is an important step in managing and learning to live with your disease. Research medication options completely and discuss with your doctor before making your choice.