Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients who used the RebiSmart (Merck Serono) device to inject themselves with interferon beta-1a (INF β-1a) did an excellent job of sticking to their treatment timetable without skipping treatments, according to a study.
They also had a lower annual disease relapse rate and more relapse-free periods, researchers said.
The study, “Impact of adherence on subcutaneous interferon beta-1a effectiveness administered by Rebismart® in patients with multiple sclerosis,” was published in the journal Patient Preference and Adherence.
It’s vital that MS patients follow the medication regimen doctors give them if they are to head off disease episodes. But research indicates that a sizable percentage of patients do not take their medications as prescribed — that is, they have a less than optimum drug adherence rate. This results in a higher disease burden, a higher risk of relapse, and decreased patient satisfaction.
Researchers decided to assess how well 110 Spanish patients using the RebiSmart device stuck to their treatment schedule. They started by looking at the difference between the patients’ scheduled self-injections of subcutaneous INF β-1a and their actual self-injections between June 2010 and June 2015. Then they compared the number of actual self-injections with the patients’ relapse rates.
They decided to use RebiSmart self-administration of INF β-1a as their yardstick for patient drug adherence because previous analyses had shown that the device improved adherence and increased patient satisfaction with their treatment. In the 12-week BRIDGE study, for example, the adherence rate of patients using RebiSmart was 88.2%, which is considered high.
The Spanish researchers discovered that the average adherence rate during the study period was 96.5%, a significantly high number. The adherence rate in the first six months was 98.7% and the last six months 97.6%. The average duration of the patients’ treatment was 979 days, with 77.3% deemed relapse-free during the period.
Patients’ high adherence rate with RebiSmart generated better disease outcomes, including lower relapse risk, researchers said.
There were no adverse events during the study. The most significant side effects were flu-like symptoms and skin issues such as erythema.
“In our study, the occurrence of relapses was correlated with adherence to INF-β 1a, with adherent patients less likely to develop a relapse,” the researchers wrote. “These findings are consistent with two previous retrospective studies. In summary, adherence data captured objectively by the autoinjector, avoiding errors or recording oversights by the patient, allow us to have a high reliability of reported adherence and to characterize our population. We have managed to correlate high compliance with a high proportion of relapse-free patients and with very low relapse rates.”
The findings add to research showing that a self-injecting device such as RebiSmart leads to decreased disease burden on the patient and the healthcare system, and greater patient satisfaction.