Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada


Extavia® (interferon beta 1b)
Drug identification number (DIN): 02337819
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.

Extavia (interferon beta-1b) is a beta-interferon that is produced from bacterial cells using recombinant DNA techniques (a series of procedures used to join together DNA segments). Beta-interferon is a protein that occurs naturally in the human body in response to initiating factors such as viruses.

Indications and use

Extavia is indicated for the treatment of:

  1. people with relapsing-remitting MS who are ambulatory (able to walk) to reduce the frequency of attacks.
  2. people with secondary-progressive MS to slow the progression of disability and to reduce the frequency of MS attacks.
  3. people at risk of developing clinically definite MS (CDMS) accompanied by at least two lesions on MRI to delay the progression to clinically definite MS. Before Extavia is initiated, alternative diagnoses must be ruled out.

    Extavia is contraindicated in: people with a history of hypersensitivity to natural or recombinant interferon beta, albumin human or to any other ingredient in the formulation; pregnant women; people with current severe depression and/or suicidal ideation; people with decompensated liver disease.

Administration and dose

The recommended dose of Extavia for both relapsing-remitting and secondary-progressive MS is 0.25 mg injected under the skin (subcutaneously) every other day. People with CIS start on a lower dose of Extavia which is gradually increased every other day to 0.25 mg. The syringes are pre-filled with a salt-water solution to mix with the active medication, which is in a powder form.

Mechanism of action (MOA)

The main effects of Extavia are to block the activity of certain immune system cells and to reduce the passage of these immune cells into the central nervous system, where they cause inflammation and damage to myelin (the insulating material that protects nerves and helps them work properly).

Side effects*

The most common side effects of Extavia therapy include flu-like symptoms (fatigue, chills, fever, muscle aches, and sweating) and injection site reactions (swelling, redness, discolouration, and pain). Most of these symptoms tend to improve over time.

This is not a comprehensive list of all possible side effects of Extavia. Please see the Extavia product monograph for a list of other potentially serious side effects. It is important that those with MS discuss side effects about any medication they are considering with their physician. (*Health Canada, product monograph for Extavia.)

Clinical trials

Extavia is identical to Betaseron and the trial results are as for Betaseron.

Cost reimbursement

Much of the cost can be reimbursed through private and group health plans for people who meet the prescribing criteria, and through provincial drug programs for individuals who meet the prescribing criteria.

Drug support program

Further information for persons with MS is available through Novartis Med Info line at 1-800-363-8883

Please discuss any other questions about treatment options with your physician.

Extavia® is a registered trademark of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc.