Minimising Side Effects and Simplifying Titration in Interferon Beta Therapy:
New Rebif (interferon beta-1a) Initiation Pack for Patients with Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis
Bedfont, June 11, 2007 – Merck Serono has announced the launch of a new Rebif initiation pack for patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). It is important when patients begin interferon beta therapy that the dose is gradually increased over a four week period as this helps minimise possible side effects. The new pack consists of 12 pre-filled syringes at the recommended staged dosing to enable easy titration and minimal wastage as a patient begins therapy.
Gradual dose titration when starting treatment may minimise side effects such as flu-like symptoms that can occur with interferon beta therapy1. Flu-like symptoms occur in 40% of patients2 and are typically present within the first few days of commencing treatment. Most patients will also experience injection site reactions, predominantly mild inflammation. Whilst both side effects are in the majority of cases reversible and may alleviate over time, they have been shown to decrease the potential for concordance. In a retrospective study among 281 patients, injection site reactions and flu-like symptoms were cited among the top three reasons for interrupting interferon beta therapy3.
Debbie Quinn, MS Specialist Nurse at Northamptonshire Teaching PCT commented on the new initiation pack. “It is really important when you start a patient on interferon beta therapy that you manage their expectations in terms of the likely side effects, building up to the maintenance dose over an extended period of time limits these symptoms. Delivering the syringes in an easy to use pack simplifies the titration process for patients and is reassuring for them.”
Starting treatment for MS can be a stressful experience for patients and their carers and it has been shown that patients who do have a more positive experience during the initial stages of therapy will be more likely to adhere to treatment in the long term. Long term follow up has demonstrated the benefits of interferon beta over a 7-8 year period and supports the importance of initial concordance4, 5.