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By Ben Ford

There’s nothing I love more than a backyard barbecue, whether it involves an intimate group of four or the whole neighborhood. And as a Los Angeles native, we always consider it grilling season—regardless of what the calendar says!

But navigating a barbecue may not always come naturally to everyone. My mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) when I was young, so as I grew up and found my passion in cooking, I saw the impact certain symptoms could have on her ability to cook—something we did together. She never wanted her diagnosis to limit her creativity as a cook, and I want to help others feel the same way.

In my book Taming of the Feast, I explore my love for outdoor grilling, smoking, and roasting and also share tips on DIY gadgets that I love to use when grilling. Below are some tips on how you can reimagine your basic backyard barbecue to impress your guests. I consulted Dr. Ann Cabot, a board-certified neurologist from Concord, NH, to make sure that these creative tips also work for those living with a disease like MS, and she also shared some insights on the disease. 

“Symptoms of relapsing MS—like dexterity issues, fatigue, and heat intolerance—can have implications on common aspects of life, including cooking and grilling,” Dr. Cabot explained. “This shouldn’t prevent you from hosting and spending time with family; it’s all about finding the balance that works for you. While there’s no way to know when symptoms likes these will occur, I always tell my patients about the importance of reimagining how they navigate tasks like cooking, to make sure it goes well for them.”

Be creative: Living with MS doesn’t have to limit how you approach cooking on the grill. There are lots of creative techniques that anyone can do, regardless of physical limitations or cooking experience. Grilled fish can be a challenge, and it’s usually one of the first menu items ditched, because it can be too risky when hungry guests are gathering. Here are a few tips that might just turn that around for you.

Some fish are just better suited for the grill because they are dense and oily—like swordfish and tuna, which are both meaty fish that hold together well on the grill. Try either of them skewered, lightly marinated in a little olive oil, pulled thyme, and rough chopped garlic. Grill on a bed of a little charred rosemary and voilà—a unique, crowd-pleasing meal straight from the grill. Here are two techniques to get you started:

  • Probably my favorite technique is to use herbs to protect the fish from sticking. Start by soaking some woody stemmed herbs like rosemary, thyme, or oregano in water for about 20 minutes. Place the herbs directly on the grill and place your piece of fish skin side down on top. The herbs will protect the fish from sticking to the grill and add flavors to the fish your guests will surely appreciate. Bass and other fish with skin, along with shell fish like shrimp, clams, or mussels all benefit from this technique.
  • Another technique is to use cedar planks. They make small planks 3”x 6” that are user-friendly and great for one portion. The fish is cooked faceup for the entire cooking time, saving you the hassle of turning the fish or worrying about it sticking. Salmon is the original planked fish, but other hard-to-handle, more buttery, and fragile fish like trout, halibut, and cod are also delicious when cooked on a plank.

Now that you have the technique, experiment and have fun.

Pick the right grill: Food is the centerpiece of the barbecue, so it’s important to pay attention to not only what you’re cooking, but how you’re cooking it. There are a few options to consider:

  • Gas or electric grills are an ideal, user-friendly choice for those who may have challenges using their hands or carrying heavy charcoal from indoors, like those who have dexterity issues.
  • If you prefer charcoal, try a round Weber Kettle grill, which is a great height to work on standing or even with a chair pulled up for resting.
  • For something a little bit different, you can also get great flavor from grilling over a real wood fire. Some manufacturers have started making grills with this purpose in mind, including Cowboy Cauldron. If you’re feeling adventurous, I would definitely give this a try.

Expand your horizons: Most people think of the grill as a way to cook meat, but it’s also a way to prepare all of your food and still be social among your guests, instead of making several trips to the kitchen. Being outside creates a bigger kitchen, so don’t be afraid to use that to your advantage. You can find specific pans and skewers made for use on the grill to prepare vegetables and seafood—and even popcorn as an after-dinner snack. I recommend a grill basket made by Lodge, which has two large handles that are angled well for lifting off the grill, even if heavy. If a single-handle basket is more your style, I suggest checking out options made by Man Law. Another tools that is traditionally used in outdoor campfire cooking but is a lot of fun to cook with is the Pie Iron, which can be filled with almost anything between two pieces of bread and toasted to perfection on the coals.

And while you’re stepping out of your comfort zone, consider a “nontraditional” barbecue recipe. Hot dogs and hamburgers are always a crowd-pleaser, but they’re a little basic. Especially if you’re using these unique grills and DIY tricks, it’s a fun opportunity to try something new.

Versions of these chicken skewers are very popular in one form or another throughout the Mediterranean and Caucasus regions of the world. This recipe is from my travels through Turkey.

Turkish Chicken Kabob
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground Urfa red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon ground sumac
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1-2 tablespoons ice-cold water

For Serving:

  • 6 pieces pita or Turkish bread (pide or pita)
  • 1 cup picked fresh parsley and mint leaves
  • 2 medium tomatoes, quartered and roasted
  • Blistered long sweet pepper

Method

  1. Make a charcoal fire or warm grill on high, or start a charcoal fire in your tandoori oven.
  2. Make a spice blend with cumin, coriander, sumac, Ufra red pepper flakes, dried oregano, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper.
  3. Combine chicken with garlic, onion, parsley, tomato paste, and half the spice mixture and reserve the rest of the spice mix to season the meat during cooking. Knead by hand or in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix until mixture turns tacky and starts sticking to the side of the bowl. Add water and continue kneading until incorporated. Place in refrigerator and chill well.
  4. Using wet hands, divide chicken mixture into even balls. Using wet hands, form each ball into a long, flat kebab around a skewer.
  5. If your skewers and grill allow for it, remove the grill grate and suspend the skewers over the fire using the side of the grill for support. Or, if you have a tandoori oven like the one above, insert the skewers. Just make sure to form the meat on the skewers about 6-8 inches above the coals.
  6. Place kebabs on the grill or suspend over the coals, cook, turning occasionally and sprinkling with spice mixture until charred on both sides and kebabs are cooked through, about 10-12 minutes total.

Serve with Turkish Yogurt Sauce (Haydari) and Sumac Onions.

Sumac Onions

Ingredients

  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons ground sumac
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Combine remaining 2 teaspoons sumac and red onions in a medium bowl. Season with salt to taste and set aside.

Turkish Yogurt Sauce (Haydari)
Yield: about 1½ cups

Ingredients

  • 1 cup greek style yogurt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ bunch dill, chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Method

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until evenly combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
  2. Cover and chill until you are ready to serve. Garnish with mint leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.

Consider the time: Most barbecues begin in the afternoon, the warmest time of day. If the heat is an issue for you, consider positioning your grill in the shade to create a personal oasis. Or, mix it up and host an evening barbecue once temperatures drop. With a few strings of outdoor lights and a few tiki torches, it will be just like grilling during the day. You can also play around with this theme and prepare recipes more appropriate for nighttime, like a grilled shrimp salad:

Toss shrimp with chilis and salt, and briefly grill until cooked medium. Grill half an avocado to bring out its nutty flavors and grapefruit with its bright acidity to create a nice salad starter with arugula. Follow the perfect starter with a nice ribeye steak, my personal favorite for the grill, along with some grilled potatoes and chimichurri (a green sauce used for grilling meat, originally from Argentina). Grilled dessert? Why not! Grill peaches with a great ice cream and crumbled nut brittle. I’m hungry just talking about it.

Don’t forget to put your guests to work, too. Recruit a partner to help work the grill to ensure a few breaks throughout the day. Barbecues are meant to bring people together and have fun, so I hope my tips have inspired you to reimagine your next barbecue to up-level the creativity and fun to make it a truly memorable experience.

Snap a photo of your most memorable barbecue moment and use the hashtag #ReimagineMySelf—I’ll be looking for some new inspiration all year long.

Ben Ford and Dr. Cabot are paid spokespeople for Biogen.

Biogen does not endorse the external companies and products contained within this post, or any services that they provide. Biogen does not control the websites associated with these entities and is not responsible for their content.

To learn more about Ben Ford, read his bio.

Connect with Ben Ford:

 

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Over 230,000 people globally have taken TECFIDERA*

Ask your doctor if it might be right for you too. 

*Biogen data on file.

Learn more about TECFIDERA  >


Real people. Real perspectives.

Hear from real people who have taken Tecfidera® (dimethyl fumarate) for relapsing MS. 

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Know more about TECFIDERA

TECFIDERA may cause serious side effects, including allergic reactions, PML, decreases in your white blood cell count, and liver problems.

For additional Important Safety Information, click here. >

Important Safety Information and Indication

Do not use TECFIDERA if you have had an allergic reaction (such as welts, hives, swelling of the face, lips, mouth or tongue, or difficulty breathing) to TECFIDERA or any of its ingredients.

Before taking and while you take TECFIDERA, tell your doctor about any low white blood cell counts or infections or any other medical conditions.

What are the possible side effects of TECFIDERA?

TECFIDERA may cause serious side effects including:

  • Allergic reactions
  • PML, which is a rare brain infection that usually leads to death or severe disability.
  • Decreases in your white blood cell count. Your doctor should check your white blood cell count before you take TECFIDERA and from time to time during treatment
  • Liver problems. Your doctor should do blood tests to check your liver function before you start taking TECFIDERA and during treatment if needed. Tell your doctor right away if you get any symptoms of a liver problem during treatment, including:
    • severe tiredness
    • loss of appetite
    • pain on the right side of your stomach
    • dark or brown (tea color) urine
    • yellowing of your skin or the white part of your eyes

The most common side effects of TECFIDERA include flushing and stomach problems. These can happen especially at the start of treatment and may decrease over time. Taking TECFIDERA with food may help reduce flushing. Call your doctor if these symptoms bother you or do not go away. Ask your doctor if taking aspirin before taking TECFIDERA may reduce flushing.

These are not all the possible side effects of TECFIDERA. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. For more information go to dailymed.nlm.nih.gov.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, or breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if TECFIDERA will harm your unborn baby or if it passes into your breast milk. Also tell your doctor if you are taking prescription or over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, or herbal supplements. If you take too much TECFIDERA, call your doctor or go to the nearest hospital emergency room right away.

For additional Important Safety Information, please see full Prescribing Information and Patient Information. This is not intended to replace discussions with your doctor.

Indication

Tecfidera® (dimethyl fumarate) is a prescription medicine used to treat people with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis.

TECFIDERA Important Safety Information and Indication

Do not use TECFIDERA if you have had an allergic reaction (such as welts, hives, swelling of the face, lips, mouth or tongue, or difficulty breathing) to TECFIDERA or any of its ingredients.

Before taking and while you take TECFIDERA, tell your doctor about any low white blood cell counts or infections or any other medical conditions.

What are the possible side effects of TECFIDERA?

  • Allergic reactions
  • PML, which is a rare brain infection that usually leads to death or severe disability.
  • Decreases in your white blood cell count. Your doctor should check your white blood cell count before you take TECFIDERA and from time to time during treatment
  • Liver problems. Your doctor should do blood tests to check your liver function before you start taking TECFIDERA and during treatment if needed. Tell your doctor right away if you get any symptoms of a liver problem during treatment, including:
    • severe tiredness
    • loss of appetite
    • pain on the right side of your stomach
    • dark or brown (tea color) urine
    • yellowing of your skin or the white part of your eyes

The most common side effects of TECFIDERA include flushing and stomach problems. These can happen especially at the start of treatment and may decrease over time. Taking TECFIDERA with food may help reduce flushing. Call your doctor if these symptoms bother you or do not go away. Ask your doctor if taking aspirin before taking TECFIDERA may reduce flushing.

These are not all the possible side effects of TECFIDERA. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. For more information go to dailymed.nlm.nih.gov.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, or breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if TECFIDERA will harm your unborn baby or if it passes into your breast milk. Also tell your doctor if you are taking prescription or over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, or herbal supplements. If you take too much TECFIDERA, call your doctor or go to the nearest hospital emergency room right away.

For additional Important Safety Information, please see full Prescribing Information and Patient Information. This is not intended to replace discussions with your doctor.

Indication

Tecfidera® (dimethyl fumarate) is a prescription medicine used to treat people with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis.

TYSABRI® (natalizumab) Important Safety Information and Indication

TYSABRI increases your risk of getting a rare brain infection—called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML)—that usually leads to death or severe disability.

  • There is no known treatment, prevention, or cure for PML.
  • You should not take certain medicines that weaken your immune system at the same time you are taking TYSABRI. Even if you use TYSABRI alone to treat your MS, you can still get PML.
  • Your risk of getting PML is higher if you:
    • have received TYSABRI for a long time, especially for longer than 2 years
    • have received certain medicines that can weaken your immune system before you start receiving TYSABRI
    • have been infected by the John Cunningham Virus (JCV). Before or while you receive TYSABRI, your doctor may do a blood test to check if you have been infected by JCV. JCV is a common virus that can cause PML in people who have weakened immune systems, such as people taking TYSABRI.
  • Your risk of getting PML is greatest if you have all 3 risk factors listed above. There may be other risk factors that have not yet been identified.
  • Patients who are anti-JCV antibody negative are still at the risk for the development of PML due to the potential for a new JCV infection or a false negative test result. Therefore, patients with a negative test result should be retested periodically.
  • While you receive TYSABRI, and for 6 months after you stop receiving TYSABRI, it is important that you call your doctor right away if you have any new or worsening medical problems (such as problems with your thinking, eyesight, balance, or strength; weakness on 1 side of your body; and using your arms and legs) that have lasted several days. Tell all of your doctors that you are getting treatment with TYSABRI.
  • Because of your risk of getting PML while you receive TYSABRI, TYSABRI is available only through a restricted distribution program called the TOUCH® Prescribing Program.
  • If you have PML or are allergic to TYSABRI or any of its ingredients, you should not receive TYSABRI.

Before receiving TYSABRI, it is important to tell your doctor:

  • If you have a medical condition that can weaken your immune system, such as HIV infection or AIDS, leukemia or lymphoma, organ transplant, or others, or if you have any new or worsening medical problems that have lasted several days.
  • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant or if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if TYSABRI can harm your unborn baby or if the TYSABRI that passes into your breast milk can harm your baby.
  • About all of the medicines and supplements you take, especially medicines that can weaken your immune system. If you are not sure, ask your doctor.

TYSABRI can cause serious side effects. If you have any of the symptoms listed below, call your doctor right away:

  • Infection of the brain or the covering of your brain and spinal cord (encephalitis or meningitis) caused by herpes viruses that may lead to death. Symptoms include sudden fever, severe headache, or confusion.
  • Liver damage. Symptoms of liver damage include yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), unusual darkening of the urine, nausea, feeling tired or weak, or vomiting.
  • Allergic reactions (eg., hives, itching, trouble breathing, chest pain, dizziness, wheezing, chills, rash, nausea, flushing of skin, low blood pressure), including serious allergic reactions (eg, anaphylaxis). Serious allergic reactions usually happen within 2 hours of the start of the infusion, but they can happen any time after receiving TYSABRI.
  • Weakened immune system. TYSABRI may increase your risk of getting an unusual or serious infection.

The most common side effects of TYSABRI are:

  • Headache, urinary tract infection, lung infection, pain in your arms and legs, vaginitis, stomach-area pain, feeling tired, joint pain, depression, diarrhea, rash, and nausea. If you experience any side effect that bothers you or does not go away, tell your doctor.

These are not all of the possible side effects of TYSABRI. For more information, ask your doctor. To report side effects to FDA, please call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Please see full Prescribing Information including Boxed Warning and Patient Medication Guide.

This information is not intended to replace discussions with your healthcare provider.

Indication

TYSABRI® (natalizumab) is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) to slow the worsening of symptoms common in people with MS and to decrease the number of flare-ups (relapses). TYSABRI increases the risk of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). When starting and continuing treatment with TYSABRI, it is important to discuss with your doctor whether the expected benefit of TYSABRI is enough to outweigh this risk

AVONEX® (interferon beta-1a) Important Safety Information and Indication

Before beginning treatment, you should discuss with your healthcare provider the potential benefits and risks associated with AVONEX.

AVONEX can cause serious side effects. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the symptoms listed below while taking AVONEX.

  • Behavioral health problems including depression, suicidal thoughts or hallucinations. Some people taking AVONEX may develop mood or behavior problems including irritability (getting upset easily), depression (feeling hopeless or feeling bad about yourself), nervousness, anxiety, aggressive behavior, thoughts of hurting yourself or suicide, and hearing or seeing things that others do not hear or see (hallucinations).
  • Liver problems, or worsening of liver problems including liver failure and death. Symptoms may include nausea, loss of appetite, tiredness, dark colored urine and pale stools, yellowing of your skin or the white part of your eye, bleeding more easily than normal, confusion, and sleepiness. During your treatment with AVONEX you will need to see your healthcare provider regularly and have regular blood tests to check for side effects.
  • Serious allergic reactions and skin reactions. Symptoms may include itching, swelling of the face, eyes, lips, tongue or throat, trouble breathing, anxiousness, feeling faint, and skin rash, hives, sores in your mouth, or your skin blisters and peels.

AVONEX will not cure your MS but may decrease the number of flare-ups of the disease and slow the occurrence of some of the physical disability that is common in people with MS. MS is a life-long disease that affects your nervous system by destroying the protective covering (myelin) that surrounds your nerve fibers.

The way AVONEX works in MS is not known. It is not known if AVONEX is safe and effective in children.

Do not take AVONEX if you are allergic to interferon beta, albumin (human), or any of the ingredients in AVONEX.

Before taking AVONEX, tell your healthcare provider if you:

  • are being treated for a mental illness, or had treatment in the past for any mental illness, including depression and suicidal behavior.
  • have or had bleeding problems or blood clots, have or had low blood cell counts, have or had liver problems, have or had seizures (epilepsy), have or had heart problems, have or had thyroid problems, have or had any kind of autoimmune disease (where the body’s immune system attacks the body’s own cells), such as psoriasis, systemic lupus erythematosus, or rheumatoid arthritis.
  • drink alcohol.
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if AVONEX will harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider if you become pregnant during your treatment with AVONEX.
  • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if AVONEX passes into your breast milk. You and your healthcare provider should decide if you will use AVONEX or breastfeed. You should not do both.

Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

AVONEX can cause serious side effects including:

  • Heart problems, including heart failure. While AVONEX is not known to have any direct effects on the heart, a few patients who did not have a history of heart problems developed heart muscle problems or congestive heart failure after taking AVONEX. If you already have heart failure, AVONEX may cause your heart failure to get worse. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have worsening symptoms of heart failure such as shortness of breath or swelling of your lower legs or feet while using AVONEX.
    • Some people using AVONEX may have other heart problems including low blood pressure, fast or abnormal heart beat, chest pain, and heart attack or heart muscle problem (cardiomyopathy).
  • Blood problems. AVONEX can affect your bone marrow and cause low red and white blood cell, and platelet counts. In some people, these blood cell counts may fall to dangerously low levels. If your blood cell counts become very low, you can get infections and problems with bleeding and bruising.
  • Seizures. Some patients have had seizures while taking AVONEX, including patients who have never had seizures before.
  • Infections. Some people who take AVONEX may get an infection. Symptoms of an infection may include fever, chills, pain or burning with urination, urinating often, bloody diarrhea, and coughing up mucus.
  • Thyroid problems. Some people taking AVONEX develop changes in their thyroid function. Symptoms of thyroid changes include problems concentrating, feeling cold or hot all the time, weight changes, and skin changes.

Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the symptoms listed above.

The most common side effects of AVONEX include:

  • Flu-like symptoms. Most people who take AVONEX have flu-like symptoms early during the course of therapy. Usually, these symptoms last for a day after the injection. You may be able to manage these flu-like symptoms by taking over-the-counter pain and fever reducers. For many people, these symptoms lessen or go away over time. Symptoms may include muscle aches, fever, tiredness, and chills.

Call your healthcare provider for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Please see the full Prescribing Information and Medication Guide for additional important safety information. This information is not intended to replace discussions with your healthcare provider.

Indication

AVONEX (interferon beta-1a) is approved by FDA to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) to decrease the number of flare-ups and slow the occurrence of some of the physical disability that is common in people with MS. AVONEX is approved for use in people who have experienced a first attack and have lesions consistent with MS on their MRI.

PLEGRIDY® (peginterferon beta-1a) Important Safety Information and Indication

Before beginning treatment, you should discuss with your healthcare provider the potential benefits and risks associated with PLEGRIDY.

PLEGRIDY can cause serious side effects. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the symptoms listed below.

  • Liver problems, or worsening of liver problems including liver failure and death. Symptoms may include yellowing of your skin or the white part of your eye, nausea, loss of appetite, tiredness, bleeding more easily than normal, confusion, sleepiness, dark colored urine, and pale stools. During your treatment with PLEGRIDY you will need to see your healthcare provider regularly. You will have regular blood tests to check for these possible side effects
  • Depression or suicidal thoughts. Symptoms may include new or worsening depression (feeling hopeless or bad about yourself), thoughts of hurting yourself or suicide, irritability (getting upset easily), nervousness, or new or worsening anxiety

Do not take PLEGRIDY if you are allergic to interferon beta or peginterferon beta-1a, or any of the other ingredients in PLEGRIDY.

Before taking PLEGRIDY, tell your healthcare provider if you:

  • Are being treated for a mental illness or had treatment in the past for any mental illness, including depression and suicidal behavior
  • Have or had liver problems, low blood cell counts, bleeding problems, heart problems, seizures (epilepsy), thyroid problems, or any kind of autoimmune disease
  • Take prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements
  • Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if PLEGRIDY will harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider if you become pregnant during your treatment with PLEGRIDY
  • Are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if PLEGRIDY passes into your breast milk. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to feed your baby if you use PLEGRIDY

PLEGRIDY can cause additional serious side effects including:

  • Serious allergic reactions. Serious allergic reactions can happen quickly. Symptoms may include itching, swelling of the face, eyes, lips, tongue, or throat, trouble breathing, feeling faint, anxiousness, skin rash, hives, or skin bumps
  • Injection site reactions. PLEGRIDY may commonly cause redness, pain or swelling at the place where the injection was given. Call your healthcare provider right away if an injection site becomes swollen and painful or the area looks infected and it does not heal within a few days. You may have a skin infection or an area of severe skin damage (necrosis) requiring treatment by a healthcare provider
  • Heart problems, including congestive heart failure. While PLEGRIDY is not known to have any direct effects on the heart, some people who did not have a history of heart problems developed heart muscle problems or congestive heart failure after taking interferon beta. If you already have heart failure, PLEGRIDY may cause your heart failure to get worse. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have worsening symptoms of heart failure such as shortness of breath or swelling of your lower legs or feet while using PLEGRIDY
    • Some people using PLEGRIDY may have other heart problems, including low blood pressure, fast or abnormal heart beat, chest pain, heart attack, or a heart muscle problem (cardiomyopathy)
  • Autoimmune diseases. Problems with easy bleeding or bruising (idiopathic thrombocytopenia), thyroid gland problems (hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism), and autoimmune hepatitis have happened in some people who use interferon beta
  • Blood problems and changes in your blood tests. PLEGRIDY can decrease your white blood cells or platelets, which can cause an increased risk of infection, bleeding or anemia, and can cause changes in your liver function tests. Your healthcare provider should do blood tests while you use PLEGRIDY to check for side effects
  • Seizures. Some people have had seizures while taking PLEGRIDY, including people who have never had seizures before

The most common side effects of PLEGRIDY include:

  • Flu-like symptoms. Many people who take PLEGRIDY have flu-like symptoms early in the course of therapy. These symptoms are not really the flu. You cannot pass it on to anyone else. Symptoms may include headache, muscle and joint aches, fever, chills or tiredness
    • You may be able to manage these flu-like symptoms by taking over-the-counter pain and fever reducers and drinking plenty of water. For many people, these symptoms lessen or go away over time

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Please see full Prescribing Information and Medication Guide for additional important safety information. This information is not intended to replace discussions with your healthcare provider.

Indication

PLEGRIDY® (peginterferon beta-1a) is a prescription medicine used to treat people with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS).