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What is interferon beta?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Interferon beta is a natural protein that helps control the immune system. When given as an injection, it limits the ability of the immune system to attack and damage the brain. Interferons have been used for many years as a first-line treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS). They are considered one of the safer disease-modifying drugs for MS, and often need less monitoring.

There are 3 types of interferon beta for people with MS. Interferon beta-1a is taken as an injection in a muscle once a week (Avonex), or as an injection under the skin 3 times a week (Rebif). Interferon beta-1b (Betaseron, Extavia) is taken as an injection under the skin every other day. Peginterferon beta-1a (Plegridy) is taken as an injection under the skin once every 2 weeks. The 3 types have similar effectiveness. 

This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition, or find a doctor. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.