Possible side effects
Rebif® (interferon beta-1a) 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.
If you are experiencing injection-site reactions and flu-like symptoms, there may be things you can do to help. Read on for some tips. You can also get guidance for managing common symptoms and certain side effects, should they occur, by speaking to an MS LifeLines® Nurse at 1-877-447-3243.
Flu-like symptoms are one of the most common side effects of Rebif. These can range from fever, chills, and sweating to muscle aches and tiredness. These symptoms are not actually flu, and they are not caused by a viral infection—nor do they include vomiting and diarrhea. For many people, these symptoms lessen or go away over time.
If you have questions or your symptoms are concerning, talk to your healthcare provider. Here are some steps you can take that may help you manage flu-like symptoms:
- Consider taking an over-the-counter pain reliever/fever reducer as directed by your healthcare provider. These are medicines that you can buy at your local pharmacy without a prescription. They may also have their own side effects, so read the instructions carefully. Talk to your healthcare provider or an MS LifeLines Nurse about using over-the-counter pain relievers or fever reducers before or after injecting.
- Find a time of day that works for you to take your Rebif. Some people inject Rebif around bedtime to help them sleep through some flu-like symptoms they may have. Others find that injecting earlier in the day works best for them. Remember, Rebif should be taken on the same 3 days a week—for example, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Your injections should be at least 48 hours apart. Take injections at the same time each day.
Please see Important Safety Information below and the Rebif Medication Guide and Prescribing Information at the top of this page. Speak with your healthcare provider for more information or about any side effects that you may have.
Watch “Managing Flu-like Symptoms”
Neurologist Randall T. Schapiro, MD, FAAN, President of The Schapiro MS Advisory Group and paid consultant of EMD Serono, Inc., discusses ways to help manage one of the common side effects that can occur with treatment for RMS: flu-like symptoms.
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, you should call your healthcare provider right away. Here are a few tips* that may help you with injection-site discomfort:
- Bring the syringe to room temperature. Removing the syringe from your refrigerator 1 to 4 hours before injecting may help to reduce irritation. Keep in mind that Rebif syringes should never be warmed in a microwave or placed in boiling water
- Clean your injection site beforehand with alcohol swabs. Allow the area to dry before injecting to reduce irritation
- 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.
* These tips have been recommended by some healthcare professionals. If you have questions or concerns, call your doctor.Download your own treatment journal
Watch “Another Way to Inject”
There’s another way to inject Rebif, called Rebif® Rebidose®. Hear what many Rebif Ambassadors like about it, and find out why Angela feels that she’s now “calling the shots.”
“ MS LifeLines is always here if you have questions or concerns about taking Rebif. ”
Randall T. Schapiro, MD, FAAN
President, The Schapiro MS Advisory Group Paid consultant to EMD Serono, Inc.