Full-service support center to benefit Detroit-area MS community, serve as prototype for additional centers nationwide
MONTVILLE, N.J., May 17 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Berlex Laboratories, Inc., the U.S. affiliate of Schering AG, Germany (NYSE: SHR), is opening the first-of-its-kind "B.E.T.A" (Betaseron(R) Education, Training and Assistance) Center in Southfield, Michigan today. One of several launching nationwide through August, the Southfield Center will serve as a community gathering place designed to help patients start and maintain Betaseron(R) (interferon beta- 1b) for SC injection therapy. It is the only Center of its kind dedicated to the needs of people who are on Betaseron therapy, and demonstrates the innovative, cooperative spirit that is a hallmark of Berlex. Betaseron was the first therapy approved in the U.S. to treat relapsing-remitting MS.
The B.E.T.A. Center's dedicated 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.
"Since I began Betaseron therapy three years ago, I've come to not just appreciate, but rely on the various services Berlex offers its patients-from medication delivery to free injection supplies to the many support channels," said Matt Oelfke. "I'm eager to take advantage of the new center in Southfield where I can spend time with my peers and give back to the Betaseron community that's been so supportive."
B.E.T.A. Center nurses will help Betaseron patients and MS community members in several ways, such as:
An Array of Services for MS Patients
The B.E.T.A. Centers are part of the company's ongoing pledge to deliver greater value to MS patients who take Betaseron. The Centers provide practical resources for its visitors, ranging from an MS-oriented library and multi-media room with Internet access, to a playroom for children, to conference rooms for seminars and group meetings.
In addition to the B.E.T.A. Centers, Berlex also maintains MS Pathways, a comprehensive, personalized support program designed to educate people with MS as well as increase their compliance and satisfaction with therapy. The program offers Betaseron patients 24-hour access to a variety of resources and educational materials-all online, by regular mail or via phone. For more information contact MS Pathways at 1-800-788-1467, or visit the Web site at http://www.mspathways.com.
MS is a disease of the central nervous system affecting the brain and spinal cord. It is estimated to affect up to 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.
Betaseron was the first therapy approved in the United States to treat relapsing-remitting MS. People with this form of MS typically have mild to moderate disability with EDSS scores of 0-5.5. About 50 percent of people with the relapsing-remitting disease advance into the secondary progressive form within 10 years. Betaseron is approved for secondary progressive MS in Europe, Canada, and Australia. In these regions, it is the only approved therapy for the treatment of both the relapsing-remitting form as well as the more advanced secondary progressive form of MS. Currently, in the United States, Betaseron is not approved for secondary progressive MS.
In January 2002, the FDA approved a new room-temperature formulation of Betaseron. Betaseron is the first and only therapy available as a room-temperature formulation (25 degrees C/77 degrees F) for relapsing-remitting MS, providing a convenient option for MS patients in the United States. Injections of this formulation should be administered immediately after preparation. If the injection is delayed, the solution should be refrigerated and injected within a three-hour time period.
The recommended dose of Betaseron 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 3cm 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).
Talk to your physician about what steps you can take to help reduce or prevent common side effects, such as fever, muscle aches, or injection site reactions. MS Pathways nurses are also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you in adjusting to therapy.
About Berlex Laboratories
Committed to developing novel diagnostics and therapeutics that address unmet medical needs, Berlex Laboratories, Inc., the U.S. affiliate of Schering AG, Germany (NYSE: SHR), researches, develops, manufactures, and markets ethical pharmaceuticals in five strategic areas: 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 and in Richmond, California. For more information about Berlex and its products, you may visit our Web site at http://www.berlex.com.
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SOURCE Berlex Laboratories, Inc.
Web Site: http://www.berlex.com
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