Rebif frequently asked questions quote by Sarah S.

"When I get my
questions answered,
it's one less thing
I have to worry about.
And that's really helpful."

Sarah H. MS LifeLines Ambassador, living with relapsing MS

Want to know more about taking Rebif® (interferon beta-1a)? How it has been studied? What to do about potential side effects? This is the place to find answers to many common questions.

The following information is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Consult your healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns about your condition.

Rebif overview

Rebif is a brand name for a product called interferon beta-1a. Interferons belong to a family of proteins that occur naturally in the body. Rebif is used to treat relapsing forms of MS to decrease the frequency of relapses and delay the occurrence of some of the physical disability that is common in people with MS. Rebif is not approved for treatment of chronic progressive MS.

Important safety information

Rebif was approved in 2002 to treat relapsing forms of MS following the completion of 2 studies. One, called the PRISMS* study, was a large placebo-controlled 2-year clinical evaluation of interferon beta-1a in relapsing MS. It included 560 people and measured how they responded to either dose of Rebif, Rebif 22 mcg or Rebif 44 mcg, versus placebo. Rebif is the only self-injected relapsing MS therapy proven to achieve 3 key treatment goals in relapsing MS:

  • Slowed disability progression
  • Reduced relapse rate
  • Reduced active brain lesions on the studied MRI measures

The exact correlation between MRI findings and the current or future clinical status of patients, including disability progression, is unknown.

Rebif was proven to slow disability progression vs placebo (21.3 months with Rebif vs 11.9 months), reduce the frequency of relapses (1.73 with Rebif vs 2.56), and reduce the number of active brain lesions (0.5 with Rebif vs 2.25).

* Prevention of Relapses and Disability by Interferon β-1a Subcutaneously in Multiple Sclerosis.

Refers to new lesions and total lesion burden or area as defined in the AAN and MS Council guidelines.

New or enlarging lesions detected with PD/T2-weighted MRI.

What is the most important information I should know about Rebif?

Rebif will not cure MS but it has been shown to decrease the number of flare-ups and slow the occurrence of some of the physical disability that is common in people with MS. Rebif can cause serious side effects, so before you start taking Rebif, you should talk with your healthcare provider about the possible benefits of Rebif and its possible side effects to decide if Rebif is right for you.

Important safety information

Rebif is the only self-injected relapsing MS therapy proven to achieve 3 key treatment goals in relapsing MS:

  • Slowed disability progression
  • Reduced relapse rate
  • Reduced active brain lesions on the studied MRI measures*

The exact correlation between MRI findings and the current or future clinical status of patients, including disability progression, is unknown.

* Refers to new lesions and total lesion burden or area as defined in the AAN and MS Council guidelines.

New or enlarging lesions detected with PD/T2-weighted MRI.

Important safety information

Potential serious side effects include: liver problems with severe liver injury possible, depression, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, risk to pregnancy, allergic reactions, and injection-site problems with a chance of infection or severe skin damage.

Important safety information

Rebif is the only self-injected relapsing MS treatment proven to work better than another in a class I clinical trial.*

The EVIDENCE study was a head-to-head trial that compared Rebif with Avonex® (interferon beta-1a) over an average of 64 weeks. Rebif 44 mcg was given to 339 people 3 times a week just under the skin. Avonex 30 mcg was given to 338 people once a week into the muscle.

Over 64 weeks, significantly more people taking Rebif 44 mcg versus Avonex 30 mcg:

  • Were relapse-free (percentage of people remaining relapse free—Rebif: 56%; Avonex: 48%)
  • Had no new or enlarging lesions detected on MRI (percentage of people with no new or enlarging lesions—Rebif: 58%; Avonex: 38%)

605 people remained at the end of the head-to-head phase of the EVIDENCE study. A total of 495 people participated in the extension phase of the EVIDENCE study, which lasted an average of 8 months. In the extension phase, all patients were offered the option of either taking Rebif 44 mcg or leaving the study. 73% of those taking Avonex 30 mcg chose to take Rebif 44 mcg, while 91% of those taking Rebif 44 mcg 3 times a week chose to stay on Rebif 44 mcg.

People who chose to stay in the extension phase of the study and changed from Avonex to Rebif had fewer relapses and brain lesions after an average of 8 months of Rebif treatment, compared with their last 6 months on Avonex.

Significant reductions were seen across 2 key treatment goals:

  • 22% reduction in active T2 brain lesions§
  • 50% reduction in relapses||

People in the study who started and stayed on Rebif showed a 26% reduction in active T2 brain lesions during the extension phase of the study.§

The exact correlation between MRI findings and the current or future clinical status of patients, including disability progression, is unknown.

Important safety information

Compared with Avonex, side effects were generally similar. People taking Avonex had more flu-like symptoms than those taking Rebif. People taking Rebif had a greater number of injection-site reactions, elevated liver enzymes, and decreased white blood cell counts.

* According to the American Academy of Neurology, data from class I studies are collected under the highest scientific standards and are thought to be the most valid.

EVIDENCE study—EVidence for Interferon Dose-response: European North American Comparative Efficacy study.

New or enlarging lesions detected with PD/T2-weighted MRI.

§ New or enlarging lesions detected with PD/T2-weighted MRI: 0.9 for patients during their last 6 months on Avonex versus 0.7 after transitioning from Avonex to Rebif.

|| Annualized relapse rate—Rebif: 0.32; Avonex: 0.64.

Important safety information

Side effects with Rebif

Do not take Rebif if you:

  • Have had an allergic reaction such as difficulty breathing, flushing, or hives to another interferon beta or to human albumin.

If you have any of the following conditions or serious medical problems, you should tell your healthcare provider before taking Rebif:

  • Depression (a sinking feeling or sadness), anxiety (feeling uneasy or fearful for no reason), or trouble sleeping
  • Liver diseases
  • Problems with your thyroid gland
  • Blood problems such as bleeding or bruising easily and anemia (low red blood cells) or low white blood cells
  • Epilepsy
  • Are planning to become pregnant

Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Rebif and other medicines may affect each other, causing serious side effects. Talk to your healthcare provider before you take any new medicines.

Important safety information

The most common side effects of Rebif are injection-site reactions, flu-like symptoms, depression, abdominal pain, elevated liver enzymes, and blood abnormalities.

Important safety information

Potential serious side effects include:

  • Depression. Some patients treated with interferons, including Rebif, have become seriously depressed (feeling sad). Some patients have thought about killing themselves and a few have committed suicide. Depression (a sinking of spirits or sadness) is not uncommon in people with multiple sclerosis. However, if you are feeling noticeably sadder or helpless, or feel like hurting yourself or others, you should tell a family member or friend right away and call your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor may ask that you stop using Rebif. You should also tell your doctor if you have ever had any mental illness, including depression, and if you take any medications for depression
  • Liver problems. Your liver may be affected by taking Rebif and a few patients have developed severe liver injury. Your healthcare provider may ask you to have regular blood tests to make sure that your liver is working properly. If your skin or the whites of your eyes become yellow or if you are bruising easily you should call your doctor right away
  • Risk to pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking Rebif you should call your doctor right away. Rebif may cause you to lose your baby (miscarry) or may cause harm to your unborn child. You and your doctor will need to decide whether the potential benefit of taking Rebif is greater than the risks are to your unborn child
  • Allergic reactions. Some patients taking Rebif have had severe allergic reactions leading to difficulty breathing and loss of consciousness. Allergic reactions can happen after your first dose or may not happen until after you have taken Rebif many times. Less severe allergic reactions, such as itching, flushing, or skin bumps, can also happen at any time. If you think you are having an allergic reaction, stop using Rebif immediately and call your doctor
  • Injection-site problems. Rebif may cause redness, pain, or swelling at the place where an injection was given. Some patients have developed skin infections or areas of severe skin damage (necrosis) requiring treatment by a doctor. If one of your injection sites becomes swollen and painful or the area looks infected and it doesn't heal within a few days, you should call your doctor

For more information, please see Medication Guide.

Important safety information

Flu-like symptoms are one of the most common side effects of Rebif. Not everyone experiences them, but the symptoms can range from fever, chills, and sweating to muscle aches and tiredness. For many people taking Rebif, flu-like symptoms tend to diminish over time. It's important to note that the flu-like symptoms associated with Rebif are not caused by a viral infection and do not include diarrhea and vomiting.

With planning and guidance from your healthcare provider, you may be able to help manage flu-like symptoms.

There are steps you can take that may help you with flu-like symptoms:

  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever/fever reducer as directed by your healthcare provider.
    • Taking them just before an injection may help to reduce flu-like symptoms.
  • Find a time of day that works for you.
    • Some people inject Rebif before bed so they can sleep through some of their flu-like symptoms.
    • Others find that injecting earlier in the day works best for them.
    • Be sure to keep up a consistent 3-times-per-week injection schedule (at least 48 hours apart) as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
Important safety information

The term "injection-site reaction" refers to any redness, pain, irritation, and swelling that may occur at the site of your injection. It's one of the most common side effects of Rebif. Some patients have developed skin infections or areas of severe skin damage requiring treatment by a doctor.

You may be able to help manage these reactions by using some of these tips. Talk to your healthcare provider about how to help deal with these reactions.

Some tips include*:

  • Bring the syringe to room temperature. Removing the syringe from your refrigerator 1– 4 hours before injection may help to reduce irritation. Keep in mind that Rebif syringes should never be warmed in the microwave or placed in boiling water.
  • Rotate your injection sites! Be sure to rotate your site each time, and don't reuse the same injection spot for at least 7 days. Your treatment journal can help you to keep track of your injections.
  • Applying a cold compress or ice pack to the injection site after injection may help reduce local skin reactions.
  • Monitor your injection site over several days for redness, swelling, or tenderness. If the site worsens over time, contact your healthcare provider.
  • See how it's done. You can refresh yourself on proper injection technique by watching our
    easy-to-follow training video
    .

*These tips have been recommended by some healthcare providers.

Talk to your healthcare provider about what's best for you.

Important safety information

How to take Rebif

Rebif is injected under the skin (subcutaneous injection). There are 3 choices for how to
inject Rebif.

Rebif® Rebidose® (interferon beta-1a) gives you the option of a preassembled, prefilled, single-use autoinjector.

The Rebiject II® autoinjector works with the Rebif prefilled syringe and gives you the ability to adjust how deeply the needle will go under your skin.

Preassembled, prefilled syringes already contain medicine and do not require needle assembly, so you don't have to worry about mixing any solutions before injection.

You should self-inject Rebif only after you have received proper training from a medical professional. Contact MS LifeLines® about scheduling a field nurse to provide injection training to you in the comfort of your home. Call 1-877-447-3243 to learn more.

Rebif may cause redness, pain, or swelling at the place where an injection was given. Some patients have developed skin infections or areas of severe skin damage (necrosis) requiring treatment by a healthcare provider. If one of your injection sites becomes swollen and painful or the area looks infected and it doesn't heal within a few days, you should call your healthcare provider. For more information, please see Medication Guide.

Important safety information

Rebif injections should be taken 3 times a week. Injections should be at least 48 hours apart. Many people choose to take their injections on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday so that they have injection-free weekends. After you decide which 3 days work best for you, stick with them to help make your injections part of your weekly routine.

Important safety information

The Rebif® Rebidose® (interferon beta-1a) autoinjector is supplied in packs of 12. Prefilled syringes are provided in monthly supply packs. Rebiject II autoinjectors for use with prefilled syringes can be ordered free of charge by calling MS LifeLines at 1-877-447-3243. Your healthcare provider will explain what your starting dose should be and how to increase to your recommended dose.

Important safety information

Rebif Rebidose is a preassembled, single-use autoinjector for taking Rebif.

  • No assembly required
  • Portable, goes where you go
  • Needle stays covered before and after injection process
  • Flexible dosing options (44 mcg and 22 mcg)

Rebif should be stored refrigerated between 36°F and 46°F (2°C to 8°C). Do not freeze. If a refrigerator is not available, Rebif may be stored between 36°F and 77°F (2°C to 25°C) for up to 30 days and away from heat and light. At the beginning of Rebif treatment, your healthcare provider may prescribe a titration phase to gradually increase to the intended dosage.

You should only use Rebif Rebidose after you have received proper training from a medical professional. An MS LifeLines Nurse may be able to provide injection training to you in the comfort of your home. Call 1-877-447-3243 to learn more.

Learn more or watch an injection training video

Rebif may cause redness, pain, or swelling at the place where an injection was given. Some patients have developed skin infections or areas of severe skin damage (necrosis) requiring treatment by a healthcare provider. If one of your injection sites becomes swollen and painful or the area looks infected and it doesn't heal within a few days, you should call your healthcare provider. For more information, please see Medication Guide.

Important safety information

Your healthcare provider may teach you and/or your care partner the proper way to inject Rebif. In many areas, you can also arrange to have an MS LifeLines Nurse visit your home, at no charge, to provide injection training for Rebif. Just call MS LifeLines, toll-free, at 1-877-447-3243 Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 10 PM ET, and Saturday and Sunday, 9 AM to 5 PM ET.

Do not give yourself an injection until you are comfortable with the dosing and injection process.

Important safety information

You can allow Rebif to gradually reach room temperature before use (typically, 1– 4 hours before the injection). Doing this may help minimize injection-site discomfort.

Remember to temporarily store your Rebif somewhere safe and out of the way, like a kitchen cabinet, so that exposure to light and heat is limited. Room temperature should be less than 77°F (25°C). Rebif should never be warmed in the microwave or placed in boiling water.

Important safety information

If you miss a dose, you should take your next dose as soon as you remember or are able to take it, then skip the following day. Do not take Rebif on two consecutive days. You should return to your regular schedule the following week. If you accidentally take more than your prescribed dose, or take it on two consecutive days, call your doctor right away.

Important safety information

If you accidentally take the wrong dose, call your healthcare provider right away.

Important safety information

Store Rebif in the refrigerator between 36°F and 46°F (2°C to 8°C). If a refrigerator is not available, it may be stored between 36°F and 77°F (2°C to 25°C) for up to 30 days, away from heat and light. Do not freeze Rebif or inject Rebif that you suspect has been frozen.

Important safety information

There are special state or local laws for properly disposing of used needles, syringes, and Rebif Rebidose autoinjectors. Your doctor or healthcare provider will instruct you on the discarding procedure and may provide you with an FDA-cleared disposal container called a sharps container. Put your used needles, syringes, or Rebif Rebidose autoinjectors in a sharps container immediately after use. Do not throw away (dispose of) any sharps in your household trash. If you do not have an FDA-cleared sharps disposal container, you may use a household container that is

  • made of a heavy-duty plastic
  • closed with a tight-fitting, puncture-resistant lid, without sharps being able to come out
  • upright and stable during use
  • leak-resistant
  • properly labeled to warn of hazardous waste inside the container

When your sharps disposal container is almost full, you will need to follow your community guidelines for the right way to dispose of it. Find out your state or local laws about how you should throw away used needles and syringes. Do not dispose of your used sharps disposal container in your household trash unless your community guidelines permit this. Do not recycle your used sharps disposal container. Always keep your disposal container out of the reach of children.

For more information about safe sharps disposal and for specific information about sharps disposal in the state that you live in, go to the FDA's website at: www.fda.gov/safesharpsdisposal

Important safety information

Living with Rebif

If you will be spending time away from home, you can take your Rebif with you. First, pack the supplies you'll need for your trip. A handy travel kit that can carry all your injection supplies is available for free through MS LifeLines. If a refrigerator is not available while you are traveling, Rebif may be stored at room temperature (77°F/25°C) for up to 30 days and away from heat and light. For this reason, the travel kit provides a reusable ice pack to help maintain Rebif syringes at the correct temperature while you travel.

Rebif should be stored refrigerated between 36°F and 46°F (2°C to 8°C). Do not freeze. You should check the temperature of the refrigerator you are using while traveling to avoid unintentionally freezing Rebif. For small hotel refrigerators, store Rebif away from the unit's cooling element and small freezer compartment.

If you are traveling by car, don't leave Rebif on the dashboard, in the glove compartment, or in the trunk. This is important even if you have it in the insulated pack provided in the travel kit. Keep your syringes with you in the climate-controlled area of the car.

If you are flying, plan to carry your Rebif syringes with you onboard in your carry-on luggage. Be sure to check the latest FAA regulations regarding traveling with injectable medicines. These are subject to change and may require certain documentation.

Important safety information

If you become pregnant while taking Rebif, you should call your doctor right away. You and your doctor will need to decide whether the potential benefit of taking Rebif is greater than the risks are to your unborn child.

Important safety information

Yes. When it comes to helping you start and stay on Rebif therapy, MS LifeLines is committed to making sure cost is not a barrier to finding affordable access. There are a number of programs available, including $0 co-pay for those eligible. If you need assistance affording Rebif, call an MS LifeLines Financial Support Specialist for information on financial support options, toll-free, at 1-877-447-3243 Monday through Friday 8 AM to 8 PM ET, and Saturday, 9 AM to 5 PM ET.

Important safety information

The Peer Connection Program is here for you. If you need to talk, call us and we can match you up with someone who may be going through some of the same issues as you. You can talk to an ambassador who takes Rebif or a care partner ambassador who may be able to offer an additional perspective. It can definitely help to share your experiences with people who know what living with MS is all about. Call the Peer Connection Program at 1-866-783-5189.

Important safety information

Choosing a relapsing MS therapy

Many people on disease-modifying therapies for MS wonder if they're working because the results can be hard to see. You may need to remind yourself that perhaps the reason you're not seeing changes in your condition is exactly because you're continuing to take your medicine as your doctor prescribes. Whatever you do, don't stop taking your medicine because you don't think it's working or because you don't think you need it anymore. Instead, keep track of your symptoms and how you are feeling. This will help your healthcare provider follow your disease and determine how well your medicine is working. If you think you are having symptoms, write them down, along with when they happened and for how long. A periodic MRI scan may be another way to see whether your MS activity is getting better or worse. However, the exact correlation between MRI findings and the current or future clinical status of patients, including disability progression, is unknown.

Important safety information

Choosing the right treatment and staying on therapy can help. Rebif is clinically proven to reduce MS relapses. Ask your healthcare provider if Rebif is right for you.

Important safety information

Talk to your healthcare provider to find out if Rebif may be right for you. You can also call MS LifeLines, toll-free, at 1-877-447-3243 Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 10 PM ET, and Saturday and Sunday, 9 AM to 5 PM ET. MS LifeLines specialists, trained nurses, and ambassadors are available to answer your questions about Rebif treatment, dealing with certain side effects, and other MS-related questions.

You can learn more about Rebif, the people at MS LifeLines, and living with relapsing MS on our YouTube page.

Important safety information
 
Next: Possible side effects
Important Safety Information and Indication

Important Safety Information

7.07

Before beginning treatment, you should discuss the potential benefits and risks associated with Rebif with your healthcare provider.

Rebif can cause serious side effects. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the symptoms listed below while taking Rebif.

  • Behavioral health problems, including depression and suicidal thoughts. You may have mood problems including depression (feeling hopeless or feeling bad about yourself), and thoughts of hurting yourself or suicide
  • Liver problems or worsening of liver problems, including liver failure. Symptoms may include nausea, loss of appetite, tiredness, dark colored urine and pale stools, yellowing of your skin or the white part of your eye, bleeding more easily than normal, confusion, and sleepiness. During your treatment with Rebif you will need to see your healthcare provider regularly and have regular blood tests to check for side effects
  • Serious allergic and skin reactions. Symptoms may include itching, swelling of your face, eyes, lips, tongue or throat, trouble breathing, anxiousness, feeling faint, skin rash, hives, sores in your mouth, or skin blisters and peels
  • Injection site problems. Symptoms at the injection site may include redness, pain, swelling, color changes (blue or black), and drainage of fluid
  • Blood problems. Rebif can affect your bone marrow and cause low red and white blood cell and platelet counts. In some people, these blood cell counts may fall to dangerously low levels. If your blood cell counts become very low, you can get infections and problems with bleeding and bruising. Your healthcare provider may ask you to have regular blood tests to check for blood problems
  • Seizures. Some people have had seizures while taking Rebif

Rebif will not cure your MS but may decrease the number of flare-ups of the disease and slow the occurrence of some of the physical disability that is common in people with MS.

Do not take Rebif if you are allergic to interferon beta, human albumin, or any of the ingredients in Rebif.

Before you take Rebif, tell your healthcare provider if you have or have had any of the following conditions:

  • mental illness, including depression and suicidal behavior
  • liver problems, bleeding problems or blood clots, low blood cell counts, seizures (epilepsy), or thyroid problems
  • you drink alcohol
  • you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if Rebif will harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider if you become pregnant during your treatment with Rebif
  • you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if Rebif passes into your breast milk. You and your healthcare provider should decide if you will use Rebif or breastfeed. You should not do both

Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and herbal supplements.

The most common side effects of Rebif include:

  • flu-like symptoms. You may have flu-like symptoms when you first start taking Rebif. You may be able to manage these flu-like symptoms by taking over-the-counter pain and fever reducers. For many people, these symptoms lessen or go away over time. Symptoms may include muscle aches, fever, tiredness, and chills
  • stomach pain
  • change in liver blood tests

Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

These are not all the possible side effects of Rebif. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Refer to the Instructions for Use that comes with the Rebif® Rebidose® (interferon beta-1a) autoinjector.

Indication

Rebif is used to treat relapsing forms of MS to decrease the frequency of relapses and delay the occurrence of some of the physical disability that is common in people with MS.