Gilenya (fingolimod) is linked to significantly lower annualized relapse rates in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) patients compared to Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate) or Aubagio (teriflunomide), a study suggests.
All three therapies showed similar effects on disability outcomes.
The study, “Comparison of fingolimod, dimethyl fumarate and teriflunomide for multiple sclerosis” was published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry.
But while these therapies are highly effective at modulating MS activity, studies comparing their efficacy on relapse and disability are missing. This is an important point for MS patients, so that if a change in oral therapies is needed (due to lack of tolerance, for example), the decision on a more suitable therapy is based on scientific evidence.
To address this matter, a group of researchers used the MsBase, an international observational MS cohort study, to identify RRMS patients who had been treated with Gilenya, Tecfidera, or Aubagio for at least three months.
The team compared Tecfidera versus Aubagio, Gilenya versus Aubagio, and Gilenya versus Tecfidera, specifically for the therapy’s impact on relapse activity, six-month disability worsening or improvement, and persistence of treatment.
Relapse was defined as the occurrence of new symptoms or exacerbation of existing ones for a period of over 24 hours, at least 30 days after a previous relapse. Disability was assessed using the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS); the six-month disability worsening or improvement were defined as an increase or a decrease by one value in EDSS.
The study included 614 patients treated with Aubagio, 782 with Tecfidera, and 2,332 with Gilenya. Patients were followed over a median of 2.5 years.
Patients’ characteristics at baseline differed among the three groups. Aubagio-treated patients tended to be older, with longer periods of disease, fewer relapses, and lower EDSS scores compared to the other two groups. Patients treated with Gilenya had higher EDSS and more relapses during the prior year, compared to those treated with Tecfidera.
The majority of the patients had been treated with other immunotherapies prior to being given one of these three oral treatments.
Results showed that Gilenya-treated patients had significantly lower annualized relapse rates than those treated with Tecfidera (0.20 versus 0.26) or Aubagio (0.18 versus 0.24), while patients taking either Tecfidera or Aubagio had a similar rate.
However, during the 2.5-year period analyzed, researchers found no differences in disability accumulation or disability improvement among the three therapies.
Regarding treatment persistence, Tecfidera and Aubagio were more likely to be discontinued than Gilenya.
Overall, the results suggest that treatment with Gilenya may have a greater impact on relapse frequency in RRMS patients compared to Tecfidera and Aubagio, although the “effect of the three oral therapies on disability outcomes was similar during the initial 2.5 years on treatment,” researchers said.
“Choosing a therapy in individual patients remains a complex task that requires thorough and individualized evaluation of disease prognosis, and the corresponding risks and benefits of the increasing number of available therapies,” they concluded.