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More MS news articles for March 2003

Berlex Launches Betaseron(R) Patient Education Network For People With Multiple Sclerosis

Web-based tool links newly diagnosed MS patients with top-rated patient support program, MS Pathways(SM)

March 25, 2003
Montville, N.J.
SOURCE Berlex Laboratories, Inc.

Berlex Laboratories, Inc. today announced the debut of the Betaseron(R) Patient Education Network (PEN), a program for people with MS and users of Betaseron(R) (interferon beta-1b) for SC Injection that combines Web-based technology with exclusive patient support services.  The first program of its kind for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, PEN builds on Berlex's leadership role as a provider of practical solutions for the MS community.

"People with MS, especially newly diagnosed patients, are eager to learn as much as possible about their disease and to reach out for support from fellow patients and caregivers," said Ralph Makar, Vice President, Marketing, Therapeutics, Berlex Laboratories.  "PEN serves these patients through the convenience and speed of the Internet to deliver practical information and personalized support services in an interactive, media-rich format."

PEN introduces a unique hybrid of CD-ROM and Internet technology to deliver high-speed streaming video and audio to almost any computer-bringing information to life for patients and their caregivers.  Available in animated and text versions, the CD-ROM boosts streaming-media speed from http://www.BetaseronPEN .com for patients with low-bandwidth service.  (Patients who already have a high-bandwidth Internet connection can take advantage of http://www.BetaseronPEN .com without the CD-ROM.)

Patients and caregivers who register for PEN services can gain access to a multitude of free resources and services, including:

An Array of Services for Betaseron Users

People registered with PEN are automatically enrolled in MS Pathways, Berlex's top-rated(i) MS patient support program, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  MS Pathways helps educate Betaseron patients about the disease on both practical and emotional levels.  Through a range of resources and materials, patients can learn about the MS community, overcome personal challenges, understand health insurance, and administer Betaseron and help manage its side effects.  The program also provides free injection supplies, and access to nurses specializing in MS treatment.

MS Pathways members also have access to the B.E.T.A (Betaseron(R) Education, Training and Assistance) Nurse Program, a network of nine Centers and 31 dedicated nurses located in local communities around the country.  The B.E.T.A. nurses, whose sole focus is to manage and care for Betaseron patients, provide comprehensive training for those new to treatment and those who seek a face-to-face support network of caregivers and fellow patients. The B.E.T.A. Centers serve as community gathering places designed to help patients start and maintain Betaseron therapy and visit with medical professionals.  Each Center offers resources ranging from MS-themed libraries to conference rooms for seminars and group meetings to children's playrooms.

For more information about PEN, visit http://www.BetaseronPEN .com, or ask a doctor for a Betaseron Patient Education Network CD-ROM.

About MS

MS is a disease of the central nervous system affecting the brain and spinal cord.  It is estimated to affect more than 350,000 people in the United States, and is the major acquired neurologic disease in young adults.  People who develop MS may not immediately recognize their condition, because the symptoms of MS are nonspecific and may be similar to those of other diseases. Common signs and symptoms of MS include fatigue, psychological and cognitive changes, weakness or paralysis of limbs, numbness, vision problems, speech difficulties, problems with walking or motor skills, bladder problems, and sexual dysfunction.

Relapsing-remitting MS is characterized by periods of attacks, interspersed with stable periods.  Most symptomatic patients are classified at onset with the relapsing-remitting form of the disease.  About 50 percent of patients with relapsing-remitting disease advance into the secondary progressive form within 10 years.  At this stage, after periods of intermittent attacks and remissions, the disease begins a course of steady progression.

About Betaseron

Betaseron was the first therapy approved in the United States to treat relapsing-remitting MS.  In January 2002, the FDA approved a new room-temperature formulation of Betaseron.  Betaseron is the first and only interferon therapy available as a room-temperature formulation (25.C/77.F) for MS, providing a convenient option for MS patients in the United States.

The recommended dose of Betaseron (interferon beta-1b ) is 250 mcg (8 MIUs) every other day, which delivers an average total of 875 mcg (28 MIUs) per week.

Serious side effects include depression, suicide, suicidal ideation, and injection site necrosis (skin breakdown, drainage of fluid and tissue destruction), which have been reported in 5 percent of patients in a controlled MS trial.  The necrotic lesions are typically 3 cm or less in diameter, but larger areas have been reported, and they may occur at single or multiple sites.

Common side effects of Betaseron therapy include flu-like symptoms, shortness of breath, menstrual disorders, and injection site reactions (redness, pain, swelling, and blue-black discoloration have been reported).

For full prescribing information, please visit

About Berlex Laboratories

Committed to developing novel diagnostics and therapeutics that address unmet medical needs, Berlex Laboratories, Inc. develops and markets ethical pharmaceuticals in the areas of Female Healthcare, Diagnostic Imaging, Dermatology, Oncology and Therapeutics for life-threatening and disabling diseases.  Berlex Laboratories, Inc. has business operations in Montville and Wayne, New Jersey, Richmond and San Diego, California as well as Bothell and Seattle, Washington. For more information about Berlex and its products, you may visit our website at

In order to utilize the "Safe Harbor" provision of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, the Company is providing the following cautionary statement.  Certain statements in this press release that are neither reported financial results nor other historical information are forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, statements that are predictions of or indicate future events, trends, plans or objectives.  Undue reliance should not be placed on such statements because, by their nature, they are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties and can be affected by other factors that could cause actual results and Company plans and objectives to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements (or from the past results).  Although not exhaustive, the following factors could cause such differences: action by the Company's competitors or the failure or demand for the Company's products to develop as anticipated; legislative and regulatory changes and general changes in public health and approaches to health care and the treatment of ideas; unanticipated difficulties in the design or implementation of clinical trials, studies and investigations, or results that are inconsistent with previous results and the Company's expectations; the failure to obtain and maintain required authorizations from governmental authorities or the loss of or inability to patent or trademark protection for products; the risk of substantial product liability claims; unexpected costs or difficulties in production or distribution or in integrating the business and operations of the Company.  These factors and other factors that could effect these forward-looking statements are described in our Form 20-F and our Form 6-K reports filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.  The Company disclaims any obligation to publicly update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether to reflect new information or future events or circumstance or otherwise.

(i) Based on findings from September 2002 survey, "MS Patients' Perceptions of Avonex, Betaseron, Copaxone and Rebif," conducted by Timely Data Resources, Inc. (TDR) and underwritten by Berlex Laboratories.  Among other topics, the survey compared patients' use of and satisfaction with Berlex's MS Pathways, Biogen's Active Source(SM), Teva Marion's Shared Solutions(TM) and Serono's MS Lifelines(TM).

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