Lemtrada (alemtuzumab) can sustain reduced activity and prevent progression of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) for more than seven years, clinical data from the CARE-MS extension trial shows.
Lemtrada, marketed by Sanofi Genzyme, is an approved MS therapy that, according to its label, should generally be reserved for patients who have had an inadequate response to two or more other therapies. But the use of the word “generally” opens a window of opportunity “to use Lemtrada as a second-line therapy and potentially first-line therapy,” Barry Singer, MD, director of the MS Center for Innovations in Care at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, said in an email response to questions from Multiple Sclerosis News Today.
The treatment was initially tested in two pivotal clinical trials in comparison with a high-dose under-the-skin injection of Rebif (interferon beta-1a) in RRMS patients. Participants were either new to treatment (CARE-MS I, NCT00530348) or had not responded to prior therapies (CARE-MS II, NCT00548405).
During these trials, patients received 12 mg of Lemtrada for three or five consecutive days in two annual courses — at the beginning of the study and again one year later. After completing this treatment period, they had the opportunity to participate in a four-year extension study (NCT00930553) during which they could receive the therapy as needed to control their disease. Patients completing the extension could enroll in the five-year TOPAZ trial (NCT02255656) for further evaluation.
To date, 80% of the participants (299 patients) from CARE-MS I and 73% from CARE-MS II (317 patients) have completed seven years of long-term follow-up.
After completing two initial courses of Lemtrada, 59% of patients from CARE-MS I and 47% from CARE-MS II did not require additional treatment courses with Lemtrada or other disease-modifying therapies during the next six years. Two-thirds of CARE-MS II patients who required a third Lemtrada course also experienced disability stabilization one year after the last treatment.
During the seven years of follow-up, reported annualized relapse rates remained low, and 37% of patients from CARE-MS 1 and 44% from CARE-MS II experienced confirmed improvements in disability. In fact, during this period, only 26% from CARE-MS 1 and 31% from CARE-MS II showed disability worsening.
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