When they stop taking Rituxan, it usually isn’t for lack of effectiveness or side effects — the reasons that lead to the discontinuation of the other drugs, according to the Karolinska Institutet researchers.
They also said that patients on Rituxan have fewer relapses and fewer new brain lesions than those on other therapies. Brain lesions are areas where the myelin sheath that cover nerve cells has deteriorated.
The team wanted to explore differences in patients’ discontinuation of Rituxan, compared with other treatments. The study covered newly diagnosed relapsing-remitting MS patients in two counties in Sweden — Västerbotten and Stockholm.
Their work, “Comparative Effectiveness of Rituximab and Other Initial Treatment Choices for Multiple Sclerosis,” appeared in the journal JAMA Neurology.
The study covered 494 patients with relapsing-remmitting MS whose median age of 34.4 years.
Rituxan was neurologists’ drug of choice as a first-line treatment for patients in Västerbotten County, which is in northern Sweden. Eighty-one percent of patients there were taking it.
In contrast, only 18 percent of patients in Stockholm County in the south were receiving Rituxan.
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