Avonex® (interferon beta 1-a)
- Parent company: Biogen Idec.
- Taken via weekly intramuscular injections; dosage is 30 mcg.
- Approved for relapsing forms of MS and for individuals with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS), a single attack not yet diagnosed as MS.
- Avonex has been shown to reduce the number of relapses and slow the progression of physical disability.
- Interferons may affect the immune system by decreasing damaging cells, while increasing cells that suppress inflammation. They may also reduce the transport of potentially damaging immune-system cells from entering the brain.
- An extension of the CHAMPS study will determine if immediate initiation of therapy after a first attack continues to delay the development of further attacks and the development of neurologic disability over 10 years.
- The ASSURANCE 15-year follow-up study will evaluate the longer-term impact on the development of disability of early versus delayed initiation of therapy in relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). Positive data is now available from eight years of treatment.
- The TODAY trial, now recruiting, is studying the side effects of gradually increasing to full dosage from a partial dose, relative to starting at full dose. A pilot study of 27 patients suggests that the combination of initial-dose titration (increasing to a full dose gradually) and analgesic drugs reduces flu-like side effects with Avonex.
- Combination and Comparative studies:
The ongoing, Phase III COMBI Rx trial for RRMS uses three treatment arms: Avonex with
Copaxone, Avonex alone, and Copaxone alone.
- The ACT trial evaluated Avonex in combination with methotrexate (MTX), intravenous methylprednisolone (IVMP), or both; data suggested that adding MTX and IVMP may be helpful in patients on Avonex who have continuing active disease.
- A study of individuals with RRMS that combines Avonex with Cellcept® is now recruiting. It will evaluate changes in brain-lesion volume activity in RRMS.
- The combination of Avonex with bi-monthly high-dose intravenous methotrexate is being examined, as is a single high dose of methotrexate prior to beginning treatment with Avonex.