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Is Rebif Right for You? (continued)


Updated May 22, 2014

History: Rebif has an interesting history. In 1996, Avonex was granted 7-year market exclusivity under the terms of the Orphan Drug Act (until May 2003). In order to market Rebif before that expired, it had to be shown that Rebif had superior efficacy or was safer than Avonex. In a head-to-head study, Rebif was shown to work better than Avonex in reducing the frequency of relapses, and was granted the first exception in history to the exclusivity rule of the Orphan Drug Act by the FDA.

Storage: Needs refrigeration for long-term storage, although can be kept at room temperature for up to 30 days.

Ease of Use: Rebif is provided in prefilled syringes. An automatic injection device (Rebiject II) is provided for patients who prefer to use it, although can also be injected without the device.

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 Rebif – even though there is no link with Rebif in clinical trials, people have reported depression in conjunction with use of interferons.

Pregnancy: Pregnancy category C, meaning that it caused some harm to fetuses in animal studies, but the effect in humans is unknown. Rebif should not be used by women who are pregnant and should be stopped before trying to conceive for some time (usually one to three months – discuss this with your doctor). Rebif should not be used by women who are breastfeeding.

Safety: Rebif 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.

Cost: Rebif costs between 25,000 and 31,000 dollars a year. (Check exact prices at DestinationRx.com).Rebif is covered by most insurance plans. For assistance in figuring out reimbursement, patients can call the MS LifeLines Support Program at 1-877-447-3243 and speak to a “Reimbursement Specialist.” According to the MS LifeLines website: “If you have trouble paying for Rebif, MS LifeLines may be able to help. A review of your situation will be conducted and you will be referred to the appropriate state or federal programs.” Your doctor’s office or local chapter of the National MS Society should also be able to assist you in determining financial options for affording treatment.

More information: Rebif is made by Serono, Inc. (a Swiss company) and comarketed in the United States by Pfizer, Inc. The patient support program for Rebif is called MS LifeLines. They can be reached by phone at 1-877-447-3243.


PRISMS Study Group. PRISMS-4: long-term efficacy of interferon-beta-1a in relapsing MS. Neurology 2001;56: 1628-1636.

Panitch H, Goodin DS, Francis G, et al. Randomized, comparative study of interferon beta-1a treatment regimens in MS: the EVIDENCE Trial. Neurology 2002;59:1496-1506.

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