A to Z of MS
Click on the relevant link for more information on a topic.
A to Z of MS Interferon beta 1b (Extavia)
Extavia is a brand of interferon beta 1b, a disease modifying drug that is also available as Betaferon.
Extavia is licensed for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis and some people with secondary progressive MS. Studies have shown that on average interferon beta 1b reduces the relapse rate in people with relapsing remitting MS by about a third and also reduces the severity of those relapses that do occur.
Extavia is also licensed for clinically isolated syndrome, an individual's first neurologic episode. The 2009 ABN prescribing guidelines state that neurologists may consider the use of beta interferon for people within 12 months of a clinically isolated syndrome when MRI evidence predicts a high likelihood of recurrent episodes.
Extavia was licensed in 2009 and so does not fall under the Department of Health's Risk-sharing Scheme, which was set up in 2002.
How beta interferon works
Interferons are proteins that occur naturally in the immune system. It is thought that beta interferon acts by reducing both inflammation and the immune response that is attacking the body's own myelin.
How is Extavia given?
Extavia is injected under the skin every other day.
Side effects and contraindications
Flu like symptoms following injections. These tend to reduce over time and are usually no longer a problem after three months on treatment. Injection site reactions such as redness, swelling, and occasionally itching or some pain at the site. These also reduce over time.
IFNB Multiple Sclerosis Study Group.
Interferon beta-1b in the treatment of multiple sclerosis: final outcome of the randomized controlled trial.
Association of British Neurologists (ABN)
Revised (2009) guidelines for prescribing in multiple sclerosis.
London; ABN: November 2009.
download (pdf 124kb)
Patient Information Leaflet
- Extavia (EMC website)
- Webcast on drug therapy
- Neurologist Prof David Bates addresses some of the questions people ask about disease modifying drugs
- Watch the webcast