August 21, 2017
Medication that changes the response of the immune system without producing general immune suppression. Includes beta-interferons and glatiramer acetate (Copaxone) which have a similar, partial effect in MS in reducing the frequency of relapses by about a third, and reducing the patches of inflammation seen on MR scans. The therapy must be given by regular injections and must be continued indefinitely to maintain the effect. It is expensive and its availability in NZ is limited by PHARMAC to MS patients with frequent relapses and significant residual disability (see PHARMAC and MSTAC) [link within Glossary]. In NZ the beta-interferons Avonex (beta-interferon 1a) and Betaferon (beta-interferon 1b) are funded by PHARMAC but not Rebif (interferon beta-1a). Copaxone, which is a different, non-interferon medication, is also now fully funded by PHARMAC.