What is it and how is it used?

What AVONEX is

The active ingredient in Avonex is a protein called interferon beta-1a. Interferons are natural substances made in your body to help protect you from infections and diseases. The protein in Avonex is made up of exactly the same ingredients as interferon beta that is found in the human body.

What AVONEX is used for

Avonexis used to treat Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Treatment with Avonex can help to prevent you from getting worse, although it will not cure MS.

Everyone has their own set of MS symptoms. These can include:

  • feeling off-balance or light headed, walking problems, stiffness and muscle spasms, tiredness, numbness in the face, arms or legs
  • acute or chronic pain, bladder and bowel problems, sexual problems and problems seeing things
  • difficulty in thinking and concentrating, depression. MS also tends to flare up from time to time: this is called a relapse.

(Notes information)

Avonex works best when you use it at the same time, once a week, on a regular basis. Do not stop your Avonex treatment without speaking to your neurologist.

Avonex can help to reduce the number of relapses that you have and slow down the disabling effects of MS. Your doctor will advise you for how long you can use Avonex or when to stop.

How AVONEX works

Multiple sclerosis is linked to nerve (brain or spinal cord) damage. In MS, your body?s defence system reacts against it?s own myelin ? the ?insulation? that surrounds nerve fibres. When myelin is damaged, the messages between the brain and other parts of the body are disrupted. This is what causes the symptoms of MS. Avonex seems to work by stopping your body?s defence system from attacking the myelin.

Table of Contents
What do you have to consider before using it?
How is it used?
What are possible side effects?
How should it be stored?
Further information

What do you have to consider before using it?

Do not use AVONEX

  • if you are allergic (hypersensitive) to interferon beta, human serum albumin or any of the other ingredients in Avonex
  • if you are pregnant, do not start using Avonex
  • if you have severe depression or think about committing suicide.
Talk to a doctor straight away if any of these apply to you.

(Notes information)

Avonex and allergic reactions. Because Avonex is based on a protein, there is a small chance of an allergic reaction.

More about depression. If you have severe depression or thoughts about suicide, you must not use Avonex.
If you have depression, your doctor may still prescribe Avonex for you, but it's important to let your doctor know if you have had depression or any similar problems affecting your moods.

Take special care with AVONEX

Talk to your doctor first:
If you have or have had in the past:

  • depression or problems affecting your moods
  • thoughts about committing suicide.

Changes to your mood, thoughts about suicide, feeling unusually sad, anxious or worthless, should be reported to your doctor immediately.

  • epilepsy or other seizure disorders not controlled by medication
  • serious kidney or liver problems
  • a low number of white blood cells or platelets, which can cause an increased risk of infection, bleeding or anaemia
  • heart problems, which can cause symptoms such as chest pain (angina), particularly after any activity; swollen ankles, shortness of breath (congestive heart failure); or an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias).

Talk to your doctorif you have any of these conditions, or if they worsen whilst taking Avonex.

Tell your doctor you are using AVONEX:

  • if you are having a blood test. Avonex may interfere with the results.

(Notes information)

Sometimes you will need to remind other medical staff that you are being treated with Avonex. For example, if you are prescribed other medicines, or if you have a blood test, Avonex may affect the other medicines or the test result.

Using other medicines

If you are using other medicines, especially those used to treat epilepsy or depression. Avonex may affect other medicines or be affected by them. This includes any other medicines including medicines obtained without a prescription.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

If you are pregnant, do not start using Avonex.

  • If you could get pregnant, you need to use contraception while you use Avonex.
  • If you are planning a baby or if you become pregnant while you are using Avonex, tell your doctor. You and your doctor can discuss if you should carry on with treatment.
  • If you are already pregnant, or think that you might be, talk to a doctor as soon as you can.
  • If you want to breastfeed talk to your doctor first.
Driving and using machines

If you feel dizzy, do not drive. Avonex makes some people feel dizzy. If this happens to you, or if you get any other side effects that could affect your ability, do not drive or use machines.

Important information about some of the ingredients of AVONEX

This medicine is essentially ?sodium-free?. It contains less than 23 mg (1 mmol) sodium in each weekly dose.

How is it used?

The usual dose for adults and adolescents aged 12 years and over

One injection of Avonex, once a week.

Try to use Avonex at the same time on the same day each week.

Not for childrenAvonex isnot to be used in children below the age of 12 years.

Injecting yourself

You can inject Avonex yourself without the help of your doctor, if they have trained you to do this. The instructions on how to inject yourself are at the end of this leaflet (see section 7 , How to inject AVONEX).

If you have trouble handling the syringe, ask your doctor who may be able to help.

(Notes information)

There are more details on how to inject Avonex at the end of this leaflet.

Alternate needle:

Your pack of Avonex already includes a needle for injection. It may be possible for your doctor to prescribe you a shorter and thinner needle, depending on your body type. Talk to your doctor to see if this is appropriate for you.

If you have problems handling the syringe, talk to your doctor about using a syringe grip. This is a specially designed holder to help you with injecting Avonex.

How long to use AVONEX

Your doctor will tell you how long you need to keep using Avonex. It is important to continue using Avonex regularly. Do not make changes unless your doctor tells you.

If you inject too much

You should only have one injection of Avonex, once a week. If you have used more than one injection of Avonex in a three-day period, contact your doctor or pharmacist straight away for advice.

If you miss an injection

If you miss your usual weekly dose, inject a dose as soon as you can. Then leave a week before using Avonex again. Continue injecting on this new day every week. If you have a preferred day for using Avonex, talk to your doctor about managing the dose, to get back to your preferred day.

Do not use two injections to make up for a missed injection.

What are possible side effects?

Like all medicines, Avonex can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them.

(Notes information)

Although the list of possible side effects can seem worrying, it?s possible that you may not have any of them.

Serious side effects: get medical help

Serious allergic reactions

If you get any of these:

  • swelling of the face, lips or tongue
  • difficulty breathing
  • a rash. Call a doctor immediately. Do not use any more Avonex until you have spoken to a doctor.

Depression

If you get any symptoms of depression:

  • feeling unusually sad, anxious or worthless. Call a doctor immediately.

Liver problems

If you get any of these symptoms:

  • yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
  • itching all over
  • feeling sick, being sick (nausea and vomiting)
  • easy bruising of the skin. Call a doctor immediately as they may be signs of a possible liver problem.
Side effects seen in clinical trials

(Notes information)

Side effects seen in clinical trials. These are the side effects that people reported when Avonex was being tested. The figures are based on how many people said they?d had them. It gives you an idea how likely you are to get similar side effects.

Very common side effects

(at least 1 in 10 people are affected)

  • flu-like symptoms ? headache, muscle aches, chills or a fever: see Flu-like symptoms, below
  • headache.

Common side effects

(less than 1 in 10 people are affected)

  • loss of appetite
  • feeling weak and tired
  • difficulty sleeping
  • depression
  • flushing
  • runny nose
  • diarrhoea ( loose stools)
  • feeling or being sick ( nausea or vomiting)
  • numbness or tingling of skin
  • rash, bruising of the skin
  • increased sweating, night sweats
  • pain in your muscles, joints, arms, legs or neck
  • muscle cramps, stiffness in the joints and muscles
  • pain, bruising and redness at the injection site
  • changes to blood tests. Symptoms you might notice are tiredness, repeated infection, unexplained bruising or bleeding.

Uncommon side effects

(less than 1 in 100 people affected)

  • hair loss
  • changes to your monthly period
  • burning feeling at the site of injection.

Rare side effects

(less than 1 in 1,000 people affected)

  • difficulty breathing.
If any of the effects trouble you, talk to your doctor.

Other side effects

(Notes information)

These effects have been seen in people using Avonex, but we do not know how likely they are to happen.

  • an underactive or overactive thyroid
  • nervousness or anxiety, emotional instability, irrational thoughts or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not real), confusion or suicide
  • numbness, dizziness, seizures or fits and migraines
  • an awareness of your heartbeat (palpitations), a rapid or irregular heartbeat, or heart problems which would have the following symptoms: a reduced ability to exercise, inability to lie flat in bed, shortness of breath or swollen ankles
  • liver problems as described above
  • nettle rash or blister-like rash, itching, worsening of psoriasis if you have it
  • swelling or bleeding at the site of injection, or chest pain after an injection
  • gaining or losing weight
  • changes to test results, including changes to liver function tests. If any of the effects trouble you, talk to your doctor.
Effects of the injection

  • Feeling faint: Your first injection of Avonex may be given by your doctor. It may make you feel faint. You may even actually faint. This is unlikely to happen again.
  • Just after an injection, your muscles may feel tense or very weak ? as though you are having a relapse. This is rare. It only happens when you inject and the effects soon pass. They may happen any time after starting on Avonex.
  • If you notice any irritation or skin problems after an injection, talk to your doctor.
Flu-like symptoms

(Notes information)

Three simple ways to help reduce the impact of flu-like symptoms:

1. Use your Avonex injection just before bedtime. This may allow you to sleep through the effects.

2. Take paracetamol or ibuprofenhalf an hour before your Avonex injection and continue taking it for up to a day. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about a suitable dose.

3. If you have a fever, drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated.

Some people find that after injecting Avonex, they feel like they have flu. Signs are:

  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • chills or a fever.

These symptoms are not really flu.

You can?t pass it on to anyone else. They are more common when you first start using Avonex. As you keep using your injections, the flu-like symptoms gradually decrease.

How should it be stored?

Keep out of the reach and sight of children.

Do not use after the expiry date stated on the label.

Store below 25 °C.

Once prepared in the syringe use as soon as possible. However, the prepared syringe can be stored in the fridge (between 2 °C and 8 °C) for up to 6 hours before you inject. Do not freeze. Bring it out half an hour before injecting.

Do NOT use AVONEXif you notice:

  • The seal of the cap of the BIO-SET device is broken.
  • The sealed plastic tray is damaged or opened.
  • The liquid in the vial obtained after reconstitution is not colourless or slightly yellow in colour or you can see particles floating in it.

Medicines should not be disposed of via wastewater or household waste. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medicines no longer required. These measures will help to protect the environment.

Further information

Ingredients

The active ingredient is: Interferon-beta 1a 30 micrograms
The other ingredients are: Human serum albumin, sodium chloride, dibasic sodium phosphate and monobasic sodium phosphate.

What is in your Avonex pack

A box of Avonex Bioset has four doses of Avonex.

Each dose comes in a sealed plastic tray and has a white to off-white coloured powder in a glass container (vial) and an injection syringe filled with water. These are mixed together to make up the injection you take (solution for injection). A separate needle to give the injection is also included in the tray.

Marketing Authorisation Holder is:

Biogen Idec Limited, Innovation House, 70 Norden Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 4AY, United Kingdom.

Avonex is made by:

Biogen Idec BV, Robijnlaan 8, NL-2132 WX Hoofddorp, The Netherlands. Biogen Idec Denmark Manufacturing ApS, Biogen Idec Allé 1, DK-3400 Hillerød, Denmark.

You can get a larger print version of this leaflet by calling the local representatives.

For any further information about this medicine, please contact the local representative of the Marketing Authorisation Holder.

BelgiëBelgiqueBelgien Biogen Idec Belgium N.V.S.A. 32 2 2191218 LuxembourgLuxemburg Biogen Idec Belgium N.V.S.A. 32 2 2191218

359 2 962 12 00 Magyarország Gedeon Richter Plc. 36 1 432 6097

eská republika Biogen Idec Czech Republic 420 222 191 640 Malta Interpharma Co. Ltd. 356 21354582

Danmark Biogen Idec Denmark AS 45 77 41 57 57 Nederland Biogen Idec International B.V. 31 20 542 2000

Deutschland Biogen Idec GmbH 49 0 89 99 6170 Norge Biogen Idec Norway AS 47 23 00 52 50

Eesti Richter Gedeon Eesti filiaal 372 742 7056 Österreich Biogen Idec Austria GmbH. 43 1 484 46 13

Genesis Pharma SA 30 210 8771500 España Biogen Idec Iberia SL 34 91 310 7110 France Biogen Idec France 33 01 41 37 9595 Polska Gedeon Richter Plc. S.A. Przedstawicielstwo w Polsce. 48 22 642-67-39 Portugal Biogen Idec Portugal, Sociedade Unipessoal, Lda. 351 21 318 8450 România MEDISON PHARMA SRL 40 31 7104035

Ireland Biogen Idec Ireland Ltd. 353 01 463 7799 Slovenija Biogen Idec d.o.o. 386 1 589 91 04

Ísland Icepharma hf 354 540 8000 Slovenská republika Biogen Idec Slovak Republic s.r.o 421 2 32410188

Italia Biogen-Dompé s.r.l. 39 02 583 831 SuomiFinland Biogen Idec Finland Oy 358 207 401 200

Genesis Pharma Cyprus Ltd 3572 2 769946 Sverige BiogenIdec Sweden AB 46 8 594 113 60

Latvija Gedeon Richter Plc. 36 1 432 6097 United Kingdom Biogen Idec Limited 44 0 1628 50 1000

Lietuva

Gedeon Richter Plc.
+36 1 432 6097

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7. HOW TO INJECT AVONEX

You should have had training in how to inject Avonex.
These notes are a reminder. If there?s anything you?re not sure about, check with your doctor or pharmacist.

Where to inject

  • Avonex is injected into a muscle, for example, the upper thigh muscle. Injection of Avonex into the buttocks is not recommended.
  • Use a different injection site each week. This means less risk of irritation to your skin and muscle.
  • Do not use any area of skin that is bruised, sore, or infected, or if there is an open wound.
A Getting ready

1. Take a tray out of the box. Check the expiry date on the lid of the tray. Do not use it if it is out-of-date. Peel back the paper lid completely. Check the blister tray contains:

  • one BIO-SET (vial + base + cap)
  • one syringe
  • one injection needle (see picture ?Contents of the plastic tray?).

2. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and dry them.

3. Prepare alcohol wipes and sticking plasters (not supplied) if you need them.

4. Find a clean, hard surface to lay out the items needed for your injection. Lay the tray down on it.

B. Preparing the injection

1 Remove cap off the vial Twist, then pull cap off. Do not touch the connection port.

2 Pull the cap off the syringe Hold the base of the syringe. Pull the cap off. Do not touch the connection port. Do not push on the plunger.

3 Line up the syringe and vial Place the Bio-Set on a flat surface. Line up the two connection ports so that they are in a straight line. Hold the syringe by the base. Screw it firmly clockwise into the vial.

4 Push the syringe down until it clicks Keep the Bio-Set on the flat surface and hold the syringe by the base. Keep them in a straight line. Tip If the syringe is at an angle to the Bio-Set, it will leak. Push the syringe until it clicks.

5 Mix the water and powder Slowly inject all the water from the syringe into the vial. Tip Dont push the plunger quickly. This turns the solution to foam that cant be drawn into the syringe. Push the plunger right down to get air out of the syringe.

6 Dissolve the powder fully Pick up the vial and the syringe, keeping them attached and straight. Gently swirl the vial until all the powder has dissolved. Do not shake this will make froth.

7 Fill the syringe Turn the syringe and vial upside down, still in a straight line. Tip If the syringe is at an angle to the Bio-Set, it will leak. Slowly pull the plunger until all the liquid is in the syringe.

8 Separate syringe and vial Hold the filled syringe by the base. Turn it anti-clockwise to remove it from the Bio-Set vial. Do not touch the connection port on the syringe.

C: Giving the injection

1 Check the liquid in the syringe It should be clear and colourless. If the solution is any colour except colourless or slightly yellow, or if you can see particles floating in it, do not inject.

2 Fit the needle Unwrap the needle to expose the connection port. Keep the cover on. Push and twist the needle clockwise onto the syringe. Now pull off the plastic needle cover. Do not twist it. Tip If you twist the needle cover to remove it, you may accidentally remove the needle as well.

3 Remove any air To remove air, point the syringe needle upwards. Gently tap to bring air bubbles to the top. Push the plunger carefully to remove the air. Dont let more than a small drop of liquid escape.

4 Clean and stretch the injection site If you need to, use an alcohol wipe to clean the skin at the injection site youve chosen. Allow the skin to dry. With one hand, stretch the skin around the injection site. Relax your muscle.

5 Make the injection Insert the injection needle with a quick dart-like thrust at right angles to the skin, into the muscle. The needle must go all the way in. Press the plunger slowly until the syringe is empty.

6 Pull the needle out Keep the skin stretched tightly or squeeze the skin around the injection site, and pull out the needle. If you use alcohol wipes, hold one on the injection site. Put a plaster over the site of injection if you need to.

Dispose of the rubbish properly After you have finished each injection, put the needle, syringe and vial into a special container such as a sharps bin, not in ordinary rubbish. Waste paper and used wipes can be put in an ordinary rubbish bin.

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