What Rebif means for beta interferons

Ares-Serono Group presented positive Phase III data on its Rebif interferon beta-1a last week, but the data may serve more to reassure clinicians about the efficacy of beta interferon in multiple sclerosis generally than to carve a large marketing niche for Rebif.

Based on its trial, Ares-Serono plans to submit applications immediately for U.S. and European marketing approval.

In a trial of 560 patients with relapsing-remitting MS, Rebif demonstrated a significant effect on progression of disability, number and severity of relapses and number of active lesions in the central nervous system as assessed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A 44 µg (12 MIU) dose given subcutaneously three times per week produced better responses than did a 22 µg (6 MIU) dose. The company also reported a favorable safety profile.

The primary competitors in the beta interferon market include Berlex Laboratories (Wayne, N.J.) which markets Betaseron beta interferon-1b, and Biogen Inc. (BGEN, Cambridge, Mass.), which markets Avonex , which like Rebif is a beta interferon-1a.

Approved in 1996, Avonex

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