Tuesday, June 26, 2007

New Rebif (Interferon Beta-1a) Initiation Pack For Patients With Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis

Merck Serono has announced the launch of a new Rebif initiation pack for patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). It is important when patients begin interferon beta therapy that the dose is gradually increased over a four week period as this helps minimise possible side effects. The new pack consists of 12 pre-filled syringes at the recommended staged dosing to enable easy titration and minimal wastage as a patient begins therapy.

Gradual dose titration when starting treatment may minimise side effects such as flu-like symptoms that can occur with interferon beta therapy1. Flu-like symptoms occur in 40% of patients2 and are typically present within the first few days of commencing treatment. Most patients will also experience injection site reactions, predominantly mild inflammation. Whilst both side effects are in the majority of cases reversible and may alleviate over time, they have been shown to decrease the potential for concordance. In a retrospective study among 281 patients, injection site reactions and flu-like symptoms were cited among the top three reasons for interrupting interferon beta therapy3.

Debbie Quinn, MS Specialist Nurse at Northamptonshire Teaching PCT commented on the new initiation pack. "It is really important when you start a patient on interferon beta therapy that you manage their expectations in terms of the likely side effects, building up to the maintenance dose over an extended period of time limits these symptoms. Delivering the syringes in an easy to use pack simplifies the titration process for patients and is reassuring for them."

Starting treatment for MS can be a stressful experience for patients and their carers and it has been shown that patients who do have a more positive experience during the initial stages of therapy will be more likely to adhere to treatment in the long term. Long term follow up has demonstrated the benefits of interferon beta over a 7-8 year period and supports the importance of initial concordance4, 5.

-- The Rebif initiation pack contains 12 pre-filled syringes (six with 8.8μg and six with 22μg)

-- Rebif should be taken three times a week at approximately the same time each day and the injections should be at least 48 hrs apart

-- A Rebif initiation pack covering a four week course of treatment costs £586.196

-- The titration schedule consists of 2 weeks' treatment at 8.8μg, followed by a further 2 weeks at 22μg, building up to a maintenance dose of 44μg at week 5 and is based on the schedule used during the landmark trials7

About Merck Serono

Merck KGaA of Darmstadt, Germany, is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company with sales of EUR 6.3 billion in 2006, a history that began in 1668, and a future shaped by about 35,000 employees (including Merck Serono) in 56 countries. Its success is characterized by innovations from entrepreneurial employees. Merck's operating activities come under the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in which the Merck family holds a 73% interest and free shareholders own the remaining 27%. The former U.S. subsidiary, Merck & Co., has been completely independent of the Merck Group since 1917.



1. Wroe SJ. J Int Med Res. 2005;33:309-18
2. Rebif SPC
3. Tremlett and Oger. Neurology 2003;61:551-554
4. Kappos L et al. Neurology 2006;67:944-953
5. World Health Organisation Report 2003; Please click here.
6. Rebif Initiation Pack Prescribing Information, May 2007
7. PRISMS Study Group. Lancet 1998;352:1498-1504