AVONEX- interferon beta-1a
Biogen Idec Inc.

AVONEX® (interferon beta-1a) Intramuscular Injection


AVONEX (interferon beta-1a) is indicated for the treatment of patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis to slow the accumulation of physical disability and decrease the frequency of clinical exacerbations. Patients with multiple sclerosis in whom efficacy has been demonstrated include patients who have experienced a first clinical episode and have MRI features consistent with multiple sclerosis.


2.1 Dosing Information

AVONEX is administered intramuscularly.

The recommended dose is 30 micrograms once a week. To reduce the incidence and severity of flu-like symptoms that may occur when initiating AVONEX therapy at a dose of 30 micrograms, AVONEX may be started at a dose of 7.5 micrograms and the dose may be increased by 7.5 micrograms each week for the next three weeks until the recommended dose of 30 micrograms is achieved (see Table 1). An AVOSTARTGRIP™ kit containing 3 titration devices can be used for titration and is to be used only with AVONEX Prefilled Syringes.

Table 1: Schedule for Dose Titration

1 Dosed once a week, intramuscularly

AVONEX Dose1 Recommended Dose
Week 1 7.5 micrograms 1/4 dose
Week 2 15 micrograms 1/2 dose
Week 3 22.5 micrograms 3/4 dose
Week 4+ 30 micrograms full dose

2.2 Important Administration Instructions (All Dosage Forms)

All AVONEX dosage forms are single-use (injection of reconstituted solution, prefilled syringe, and prefilled autoinjector). See Patient’s Instructions for Use for complete administration instructions.

The first AVONEX injection should be performed under the supervision of an appropriately qualified healthcare professional. If patients or caregivers are to administer AVONEX, train them in the proper intramuscular injection technique and assess their ability to inject intramuscularly to ensure the proper administration of AVONEX.

Advise patients and caregivers to:

  • Rotate sites for intramuscular injections with each injection to minimize the likelihood of injection site reactions
  • NOT inject into an area of the body where the skin is irritated, reddened, bruised, infected or scarred in any way
  • Check the injection site after 2 hours for redness, swelling, or tenderness
  • Contact their healthcare provider if they have a skin reaction and it does not clear up in a few days

A 25 gauge, 1” needle for intramuscular injection with AVONEX prefilled syringe or injection of reconstituted solution may be substituted for the 23 gauge, 1 ¼” needle by the healthcare provider, if deemed appropriate. A 25 gauge, 5/8” needle specific to the prefilled autoinjector is supplied with the AVONEX PEN® Administration Dose Pack. DO NOT use any other needle with the autoinjector.

Use safe disposal procedures for needles and syringes. Do not re-use needles, syringes, prefilled syringes, or autoinjectors. Following the administration of each titrated dose, discard any remaining product.

2.3 Premedication for Flu-like Symptoms

Concurrent use of analgesics and/or antipyretics on treatment days may help ameliorate flu-like symptoms associated with AVONEX use.


  • For injection: 30 micrograms lyophilized powder in a single-use vial
  • Injection: 30 micrograms per 0.5 mL solution in a single-use prefilled syringe
  • Injection: 30 micrograms per 0.5 mL solution in a single-use prefilled autoinjector


AVONEX is contraindicated in patients with a history of hypersensitivity to natural or recombinant interferon beta, or any other component of the formulation [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3) ].

The lyophilized vial formulation of AVONEX is contraindicated in patients with a history of hypersensitivity to albumin (human).


5.1 Depression, Suicide, and Psychotic Disorders

Patients treated with AVONEX and their caregivers should be advised to report immediately any symptoms of depression, suicidal ideation, and/or psychosis to their prescribing physicians. If a patient develops depression or other severe psychiatric symptoms, cessation of AVONEX therapy should be considered.

Depression and suicide have been reported to occur with increased frequency in patients receiving AVONEX. In Study 1, the incidence of depression was similar in placebo-treated and in AVONEX-treated patients, but suicidal tendency was seen more frequently in AVONEX-treated patients (4% in AVONEX group vs. 1% in placebo group). In Study 2, there was a greater incidence of depression in AVONEX-treated patients than in placebo-treated patients (20% in AVONEX group vs. 13% in placebo group) [see Clinical Studies (14) ].

Additionally, there have been postmarketing reports of depression, suicidal ideation, and/or development of new or worsening of other pre-existing psychiatric disorders, including psychosis. For some of these patients, symptoms of depression improved upon cessation of AVONEX.

5.2 Hepatic Injury

Severe hepatic injury, including cases of hepatic failure, has been reported rarely in patients taking AVONEX. Asymptomatic elevation of hepatic transaminases has also been reported, and in some patients has recurred upon rechallenge with AVONEX. In some cases, these events have occurred in the presence of other drugs that have been associated with hepatic injury. The potential risk of AVONEX used in combination with known hepatotoxic drugs or other products (e.g., alcohol) should be considered prior to starting AVONEX, or before starting hepatotoxic drugs. Patients should be monitored for signs of hepatic injury [see Warnings and Precautions (5.8) ].

5.3 Anaphylaxis and Other Allergic-Reactions

Anaphylaxis has been reported as a rare complication of AVONEX use. Other allergic reactions have included dyspnea, orolingual edema, skin rash and urticaria. Discontinue AVONEX if anaphylaxis or other allergic reactions occur.

5.4 Congestive Heart Failure

Patients with pre-existing congestive heart failure should be monitored for worsening of their cardiac condition during initiation of and continued treatment with AVONEX. While beta interferons do not have any known direct cardiac toxicity, during the postmarketing period cases of congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy, and cardiomyopathy with congestive heart failure have been reported in patients without known predisposition to these events, and without other etiologies being established. In some cases, these events have been temporally related to the administration of AVONEX. In some of these instances recurrence upon rechallenge was observed.

5.5 Decreased Peripheral Blood Counts

Decreased peripheral blood counts in all cell lines, including rare pancytopenia and thrombocytopenia, have been reported from postmarketing experience in AVONEX-treated patients [see Adverse Reactions (6.2) ]. In some cases, platelet counts were below 10,000/microliter. Some cases recurred with rechallenge [see Adverse Reactions (6.2) ]. Patients should be monitored for symptoms or signs of decreased blood counts.

5.6 Thrombotic Microangiopathy

Cases of thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA), including thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and hemolytic uremic syndrome, some fatal, have been reported with interferon beta products, including AVONEX. Cases have been reported several weeks to years after starting interferon beta products. Discontinue AVONEX if clinical symptoms and laboratory findings consistent with TMA occur, and manage as clinically indicated.

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