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Rebif (Interferon Beta-1a) for Multiple Sclerosis

Last updated May 13, 2022, by Teresa Carvalho, MS

Fact-checked by Ines Martins, PhD

FAQs about Rebif

Rebif was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in March 2002 for the treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), including relapsing-remitting MS, active secondary progressive MS, and clinically isolated syndrome. However, the active ingredient in Rebif, interferon beta-1a, was originally approved by the FDA in 1996 under the brand name Avonex.

A large pregnancy registry that tracked the outcomes of nearly 800 pregnancies exposed to interferon beta therapies, including Rebif, did not identify an increased risk of major birth defects or adverse pregnancy outcomes. Exposure to this therapy during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy has not been well studied, however. If clinically needed, Rebif may be considered for use during pregnancy, but patients who are or plan to become pregnant should discuss the benefits and risks of continuing to receive treatment with their healthcare team.

No interactions between Rebif and alcohol have been described to date. But drinking alcohol can potentially worsen some side effects, including liver damage, associated with this therapy. Rebif should be used with caution in patients with a history of alcohol abuse, according to its label. Patients should talk with their healthcare provider to understand how much alcohol is safe for them to drink while on this medication.

Some patients in clinical trials have seen results from Rebif by six months after starting treatment. In the EVIDENCE trial, which compared Rebif to another formulation of interferon beta-1a called Avonex in people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, a significant reduction in relapse rates and in the development of brain lesions was already evident at six months. Nonetheless, multiple sclerosis is a disease that can look very different in different people, and it is recommended that patients talk with their healthcare team about how Rebif may help in their particular case.

Based on clinical trials and studies done after Rebif’s approval, hair loss is considered a common side effect of this treatment. Although more rare, weight gain also may occur as a result of kidney problems brought on by the therapy. Patients should talk with their healthcare providers if such events occur while taking Rebif.

Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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