If necessary, women with relapsing multiple sclerosis can continue treatments based on interferon beta while pregnant and breastfeeding, according to an updated recommendation by an office of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Interferon beta-based treatments are a mainstay of approved MS therapies.
Three specific treatments were mentioned in press releases regarding this decision: Biogen‘s Plegridy (peginterferon beta-1a) and Avonex (interferon beta-1a), and Rebif (interferon beta-1a) by Merck KGaA (known as EMD Serono in North America).
The opinion by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) was based on data from the European Interferon Beta Pregnancy Registry, and from the national health registers of Finland and Sweden. These contain information on pregnancy outcomes recorded in registries and experiences collected during clinical use.
These data suggest that exposure to interferon beta before conception or during the first trimester of pregnancy is not associated with an increased risk of fetal health problems.
It is worth noting that these data are by nature somewhat limited, because when the data were collected, it was recommended that interferon beta treatment be discontinued during pregnancy. As such, there is almost no reliable information available on the duration of interferon exposure during the first trimester or later in the pregnancy.
Because of this limitation, it is not possible at this point to draw reliable conclusions on the risk of spontaneous abortions in women exposed to interferon beta. But data available suggest no increased risk.
Similarly, preliminary data suggest that using interferon beta during breastfeeding poses no health risk to the baby.
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