New Study Supports Hitting MS Fast and Hard

Ed Tobias avatar

by Ed Tobias |

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DMT switching and MS

MS_Wire_Ed_Tobias The question of how quickly to start a disease-modifying therapy (DMT) after a multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis is one that I frequently see when I browse online. It goes hand in hand with questions about which DMT is best to start with.

There are many things to consider when making that decision. Recently, I ran across a study that may help you when you’re weighing the benefits and risks of being treated with a DMT. The study, recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reviewed the records of 1,555 patients who had been diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS).

Any DMT is better than none

The study found that people with RRMS who were initially treated with a glatiramer acetate (Copaxone, Glatopa) or an interferon beta (Avonex, Betaferon, Extavia, Rebif) had a lower risk (12 percent) of progressing to secondary progressive MS (SPMS) than people who received no treatment (27 percent). Those who received fingolimod (Gilenya) also had a lower risk (7 percent versus 32 percent), as did natalizumab (Tysabri) (19 percent versus 38 percent) and alemtuzumab (Lemtrada) (10 percent versus 25 percent).

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The risk of moving from RRMS to SPMS was lower when the glatiramer acetate or interferon beta treatment was started quickly, within five years of disease onset.

Additionally, according to the study, treatment with newer DMTs appears to be more effective at slowing advance of the disease than older glatiramer acetate and interferon beta treatments. “Among patients with relapsing-remitting MS, initial treatment with fingolimod, alemtuzumab, or natalizumab was associated with a lower risk of conversion to secondary progressive MS vs initial treatment with glatiramer acetate or interferon beta,” the study noted. So, the message is:

Treat MS quickly and effectively

One of the study’s lead authors, Tomas Kalincik, associate professor and head of the MS Service at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, said that the findings show how important it is to treat MS quickly and effectively.

“People who converted from relapsing MS to secondary progressive MS experience gradual and mostly irreversible worsening of disability. Most of the therapies that we use to treat MS have no effect once people have converted to secondary progressive MS. This study shows us how important it is to treat relapsing MS early and pro-actively,” Kalincik said, according to a news release.

‘Wait and see’ isn’t the way to go

Consider all of this information when you and your neurologist are making DMT decisions, especially if you’ve just recently been diagnosed. Then, IMHO, you should hit your MS as fast and hard as you can.

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Scott avatar


And of course if you’re diagnosed with primary progressive you should immediately get HSCT.

Bruce Owen avatar

Bruce Owen

Scott, your message didn’t mention how or where to get HSCT, or how to pay ? for it, in case your DMT didn’t work!

Bruce Owen avatar

Bruce Owen

Please Read: I’ve read so many studies, but here is what happened to many of us with ms! All DMT’s are not the same, at least what they once were, that probably pushed me to secondary ms.
Let me explain, Copaxone changed their formula because of patent expired, which threw me into a relapse that changed my life and others also...
Please contact me.
Best Regards, Bruce O.

Michelle avatar


So if we’re supposed to hit it fast and hard why is hsct not offered to patients as an option? Even in countries where it’s approved it’s not first line it’s “wait and see” how bad you are first.
And yes- for those of you who say things like “you need hsct” it’s unfair and irresponsible to do so without telling patients how and where to make this happen.

Helen avatar


Bruce HSCT in Russia and Clinic Ruietz are the world's best in treating all forms of MS,if stops the progression and gives you back some of the disabilities you have lost,maybe just small improvements but totally worthwhile to halt the progression,Look up Russia HSCT for MS and Autoimmune diseases and Mexico HSCT,the cost is about 55 thousand US dollars,45 thousand Euros,most of us have to fundraise or by selling your home and down sizing,sold camper vans,pension pot,Etc x

Sarah Cram avatar

Sarah Cram

1) Who funded this study?
2) What were the profiles of the 1555 subjects, other than they all had RRMS?

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias


There is a link to an abstract of the study in the second paragraph of my column. Click on "study," which is highlighted in blue.


essay proofread avatar

essay proofread

I am not sure if this information is reliable. Who funded this study? I cannot find the link to an abstract of the study.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

There is a link in the second paragraph of my column. Click on the word "study."

Jeanine Thiede avatar

Jeanine Thiede

I am primary progressive. My doc said according to my MRI, I have had this sense my 20's. I am not 58. I believe it is too late for med's at this point. They put me on Glatimier. Im just getting worse and no letting up. I have about two days a week where I am sort of ok, but I can't seem to stay away. What is the use taking med's and spending 700$ a month on meds that do not work?


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