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peginterferon beta-1a (Plegridy): MS Drug Side Effects & Dosage

What is Plegridy? What is Plegridy used for?

Peginterferon beta-1a (Plegridy)
is a protein produced by recombinant DNA technology using genetically engineered
Chinese Hamster Ovary Cells into which the human interferon beta genes have been
introduced. It is used for treating multiple sclerosis (MS). It differs from
interferon beta-1a by having polyethylene glycol attached to the interferon
molecules (peglated) that allow the interferon to remain in the body for longer
times thus allowing less frequent dosing. Interferon beta-1a is designed to be
identical to interferon beta that is naturally produced by various cells in the
body. Interferon beta has antiviral properties and plays a role in regulating
the immune response. The exact mechanism by which interferon beta-1a works in
the body to treat MS is not known. Interferon beta-1a does not cure MS. Rather
it helps to decrease the number of flare-ups and slows the occurrence of some of
the physical disability that commonly occurs in the disease. Plegridy works in
the same way and has similar side effects as other interferon beta-1a products
such as Avonex and Rebif. However, it is given every 14 days versus once weekly
or 3 times per week injections. The FDA approved Plegridy in August, 2014.

What brand names are available for Plegridy?


Is Plegridy available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for Plegridy?


What are the side effects of Plegridy?

The most common side effects of interferon
beta-1a are:

Flu-like symptoms are commonly
experienced when patients first start taking interferon beta-1a. These symptoms
can be managed with over-the-counter pain and fever reducers, and usually
decrease or go away over time.

Stomach pain, an increase in liver enzymes, and blood disorders including a
drop in the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets also

Interferon beta-1a may also cause other serious side effects including
seizures, suicidal thoughts or actions, liver disease, and serious allergic and
skin reactions.


What kind of disease is multiple sclerosis?
See Answer

What is the dosage for Plegridy?

The recommended dose of Plegridy is 125 mcg injected
under the skin (subcutaneously) every 14 days.

Treatment is started at the lower dose of 63 mcg followed by a second
injection of 94 mcg injection on day 15. The full dose of 125 mcg is
administered for the third dose on day 29 and every 14 days thereafter.

The best sites to inject are the areas of the body that usually have more
fatty tissue such as the thigh, back of the upper arm, and stomach. To avoid
injury, patients are advised to change or rotate the injection sites.

Which drugs or supplements interact with Plegridy?

Combining interferon beta-1a with
zidovudine (Retrovir) or hydroxyurea (Hydrea) may increase the risk of bone
marrow suppression.

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Is Plegridy safe to take if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

Use of peginterferon beta-1a has not been
adequately evaluated in pregnant women. Due to the lack of conclusive safety
data, peginterferon beta-1a should be used in pregnancy only if the potential
benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. Peginterferon beta-1a is
classified as FDA pregnancy risk category C. This designation indicates fetal
harm from the drug has been shown in animal studies, but information on effects
in pregnant women is not clear.

It is not known if peginterferon beta-1a is
excreted in breast milk. As many drugs enter breast milk and can potentially
cause harm to the nursing infant, peginterferon beta-1a should be used
cautiously in nursing mothers. 

What else should I know about Plegridy?

What preparations of Plegridy are available?

Plegridy is available in prefilled pens or
syringes for subcutaneous injection.

Injection: 125 mcg/0.5 ml solution in single-dose prefilled syringe or
single-dose prefilled pen.

Injection starter pack: containing 63 mcg/0.5 ml and 94 mcg/0.5 ml solution
in single-dose prefilled pens or syringes.

How should I keep Plegridy stored?

Preferably peginterferon beta-1a should be stored
refrigerated at a temperature from 2 C to 8 C (36 F to 46 F). Peginterferon
beta-1a should be warmed to room temperature before injecting. If refrigeration
is not available, peginterferon beta-1a can be stored from 2 C to 25 C (36 F to
77 F) for up to 30 days.


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