Drugs Used for Treating Multiple Sclerosis (cont.)
Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD
Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.
In this Article
- Introduction to drugs for the treatment of multiple sclerosis
- What are steroids, and which ones are available?
- What are disease modifying drugs, and which ones are available?
- Avonex (interferon beta-1a)
- Rebif (interferon beta-1a)
- Betaseron (interferon beta-1b)
- Copaxone (glatiramer acetate)
- Novantrone (mitoxantrone)
- Tysabri (natalizumab)
- What is a potassium channel blocker?
Rebif (interferon beta-1a)
Rebif is administered by subcutaneous injection three times weekly. In one clinical study, patients treated with Rebif were more likely to remain relapse free at 24 and 48 weeks than patients treated with Avonex. Common side effects associated with Rebif are injection site reactions, flu-like symptoms, abdominal pain, depression, abnormal liver tests and abnormalities of the cells in the blood.
Betaseron (interferon beta-1b)
Interferon beta-1b, the active chemical in Betaseron, is a naturally occurring protein found in the body. Betaseron is synthesized using recombinant DNA technology and is identical to the natural protein. The mechanism of action of interferon beta in MS is unknown. Betaseron is used for the treatment of patients with relapsing forms of MS to decrease the frequency of acute flare ups. Betaseron is injected subcutaneously every other day. In clinical trials patients treated with Betaseron experienced fewer flare ups. Side effects associated with Betaseron include flu like symptoms, depression, abnormal liver tests, skin reactions, thyroid disorders, a drop in red and white blood cells and platelets. Allergic reactions and necrosis (death) of the skin have also been associated with Betaseron. Betaseron should not be used during pregnancy due to the risk of miscarriage or harm to the fetus.
Prescribing Information for Avonex (interferon beta-1a); Betaseron (interferon beta-1b); Copaxone (glatiramer acetate); Rebif (interferon beta-1a); Novantrone (mitoxantrone); Tysabri (natalizumab); AMPYRA (dalfampridine)
Litzinger MH, Litzinger M. Multiple Sclerosis: A therapeutic overview. US Pharmacist 2009;34(1):HS3-HS9
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