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CRAB's comparison page

CRAB's comparison page

Brand and Generic Name


Glatiramer Acetate



Interferon Beta-1a



Interferon Beta-1a



Interferon Beta-1b



Teva Marion Partners
Serono Biogen Berlex

FDA Approval

1996 2002 1996 1993

Frequency/Route of Delivery

Daily; subcutaneous (under the skin) injection

3xs a week subcutaneous (under the skin) injection

Weekly; intramuscular (into the muscle) injection

Every other day; subcutaneous (under the skin) injection

Common Side Effects

Injection site reactions. Rarer: a reaction immediately after injection which includes anxiety, chest tightness, shortness of breath and flushing. This lasts 15-30 minutes and has no known long-term effects.

Common side effects include flu-like symptoms (fatigue, chills, fever, muscle aches, and sweating) and injection site reactions (swelling, redness, discoloration, and pain) and depression.

Flu symptoms following injection, which lessen over time for many people. (See over for how to manage.) Rarer: mild anemia, elevated liver enzymes.

Flu symptoms following injection, which lessen over time for many. (See over for how to manage.) Injection site reactions, about 5% of which need medical attention. Rarer: elevated liver enzymes, low white blood cell counts.

Patient Information and Financial Support Programs

“Shared Solutions”:



"MS Lifeline":



“Avonex Alliance”:







J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2002 Aug;73(2):148-53

Comment in:

Differential effects of three interferon betas on neutralising antibodies in patients with multiple sclerosis: a follow up study in an independent laboratory.

Bertolotto A, Malucchi S, Sala A, Orefice G, Carrieri PB, Capobianco M, Milano E, Melis F, Giordana MT.

Centro di Riferimento Regionale Sclerosi Multipla & Laboratorio di Neurobiologia Clinica, Divisione Universitaria di Neurologia, Azienda Ospedaliera S Luigi, Universita di Torino, Orbassano, Italy. nsglb@tin.it

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the incidence and the prevalence of neutralising antibodies (NABs) to three interferon beta (IFNbeta) products in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). METHODS: Sera were tested from 125 patients with relapsing-remitting MS. Patients were treated with IFNbeta-1b (Betaferon, n = 29) 8 MIU subcutaneously every other day, IFNbeta-1a (Avonex, n = 44) 30 microg intramuscularly once weekly, or IFNbeta-1a (Rebif, n = 36) 22 microg subcutaneously three times weekly for 6 to 18 months. An additional 16 patients were treated with Rebif 22 microg intramuscularly once or twice weekly. NABs were assessed using the cytopathic effect assay before treatment and every three months during treatment. Patients with two or more consecutive positive samples were considered to be persistent NAB positive (NAB+). RESULTS: At baseline, no patients were NAB+. NABs developed during the first three months of treatment and continued to develop until month 18. Over 18 months of treatment, the risk of being persistent NAB+ was 31% for Betaferon, 15% for Rebif, and 2% for Avonex (Betaferon versus Avonex, p = 0.001; Betaferon versus Rebif, p = 0.19; Rebif versus Avonex, p = 0.04). In all patients with one or more NAB+ samples, the risk of becoming NAB+ was 38% for Betaferon, 18% for Rebif, and 7% for Avonex (Betaferon versus Avonex, p = 0.0007; Betaferon versus Rebif, p = 0.10; Rebif versus Avonex, p = 0.07). At month 18, the prevalence of persistent NAB+ patients was 31.6% for Betaferon, 18.7% for Rebif, and 4% for Avonex. Numbers of NAB+ patients observed were similar with intramuscular Rebif and with subcutaneous Rebif. CONCLUSION: The three IFNbeta preparations have different degrees of immunogenicity, with Betaferon producing the highest incidence of NABs and Avonex the lowest. These differences should be considered by neurologists when selecting treatment for their patients with MS because NABs can reduce both bioavailability and clinical efficacy of IFNbeta.

PMID: 12122172 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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