Making Sense of MS Research

Summaries of independent,
high-quality research about multiple sclerosis treatments

Interferons for Relapsing Remitting MS

This is a summary of the research about the effect of interferons (Avonex®, Betaferon®, Rebif®) in people with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) written in plain language for people with MS and their family members. It is based on a report (known as a systematic review) that was produced by The Cochrane Collaboration.

In 2009, the authors of the report searched for all the randomised controlled trials (RCTs) on this topic and combined the results. They aimed to provide an overall picture of whether interferons are effective in RRMS. They found eight trials, including 1301 participants. As at August 2012, there were no new RCTs conducted in this area.

Review question

What happens when people with RRMS take interferons?

The short answer

This review found that interferons (Avonex®, Betaferon® and Rebif®) can lead to a moderate reduction in relapses and disability in people with RRMS in the short-term (two years). Because these studies only lasted for two years, the authors were unable to draw any conclusions about long-term effects. The side effects of interferons most commonly include flu-like symptoms, headache and pain and redness at the injection site but can include a range of others.

Do these results look different from what you’ve read elsewhere? See the FAQ page for an explanation. You can also discuss the results with your local MS Australia office.