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Is Betaseron Right for You? (Continued)

Is Betaseron Right for You? (Continued)

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Updated June 10, 2014

History: Available since 1993, the first DMT to be approved by the FDA.

Storage: Betaseron does not need refrigeration.

Ease of Use: Betaseron requires mixing. Since it is not refrigerated, there is no need to let it warm up for 20 minutes before injection.

Safety: Betaseron is the interferon with the longest record of clinical evidence and has been shown to be safe in people using it for over 17 continuous years. It has a comparable safety record to the other interferon-based drugs, which are considered safe for long-term use, as long as appropriate monitoring for liver function and blood cell count are maintained.

Contraindications/Precautions: Not contraindicated for use with any drug, including high-dose steroids (Solu-Medrol). People with a history of depression should be monitored closely while on Betaseron. During clinical trials, there were five suicide attempts (one successful) among people taking Betaseron. Treatment with Betaseron is not advised for those patients suffering from blood problems such as anemia.

Pregnancy: Pregnancy category C, meaning it caused some harm to fetuses in animal studies, but the effect in humans is unknown. Betaseron should not be used by women who are breastfeeding.

Cost: Betaseron costs between 22,000 and 33,000 dollars a year. (Check exact prices at DestinationRX.com). Betaseron is covered by most private insurance plans. In addition, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals operates the Betaseron Patient Assistance Program to help patients who, after pursuing other forms of coverage and assistance, cannot otherwise afford Betaseron. Call (877) 836-5724 for more information or contact MS Pathways for help. Your doctor's office or the local chapter of the National MS Society should also be able to assist you in determining financial options for affording treatment.

More information: Betaseron is made by Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. The patient support program for Betaseron is called MS Pathways. They can be reached by phone at 1-800-788-1467, where you can discuss questions that you have about Betaseron with a nurse (called a B.E.T.A. Nurse).

Sources:

The IFNB Multiple Sclerosis Study Group. Interferon beta-1b is effective in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis I: clinical results of a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Neurology 1993;43:655-661.

Durelli L, Verdun E, Barbero P, et al. Every-other-day interferon beta-1b versus once-weekly interferon beta-1a for multiple sclerosis: results of a 2-year prospective randomised multicentre study (INCOMIN). Lancet 2002;359:1453-1460.

Kappos L, Polman CH, Freedman MS, et al, for the BENEFIT Study Group. Treatment with interferon beta-1b delays conversion to clinically definite and McDonald MS in patients with clinically isolated syndromes. Neurology. 2006;67:1242-1249.

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