Produced by Biogen, Avonex—a form of interferon beta-1a—is an FDA-approved, injectable drug for the treatment of relapsing-remitting MS. It is meant for individuals who have had an initial relapse and whose MRI reveals lesions. Avonex injections work by decreasing the frequency of attacks and slowing down the progression of the disease.
The drug was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996. Upwards of 450,000 patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis chose Avonex as their primary treatment since its approval.
Clinical Trials: Avonex Injection Multiple Sclerosis Treatment
Two clinical studies established the basis for the FDA approvals. A clinical study that ran for two years in the early ’90s placed 158 patients with relapsing-remitting MS on Avonex and 143 of them on a placebo. Another study that ran for four years studied the effects of the drug by placing 193 on Avonex and 190 of them on a placebo.
These studies found that in two years’ time, Avonex could diminish the frequency of relapses by 18-32%. Patients with a history of only one attack prior to participating in the study saw a 44% decline in attacks three years into the treatment.
The studies also found that Avonex could also lower the chances of disability by 37%. Simultaneously, Avonex can impede the progression of disability in around 75% of the participants. Lastly, patients who were on Avonex saw a 91% reduction in the size of MRI-detectable lesions over the course of 18 months.
How Avonex Improves Relapsing-Remitting MS
The active ingredient in Avonex is a type of interferon beta-1a, which is a protein that the body produces naturally. It is a signal-transmitting particle generated by cells used for transmission.
Interferon beta-1a in the treatment of MS offsets irregular signals related to inflammation, lessens the effect of inflammation-causing cells, and plays a part in saving neurons.
Avonex is a once-weekly injection available in three delivery methods. Patients can use the Avonex pen, a preloaded syringe, for self-administration. If not, patients may also have a doctor administer the injection when necessary.
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