Treatment of relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) with beta-interferon therapies is associated with extended patient survival, particularly if taking such treatments for more than three years, according to a real-world study in Canada and France.
The study, “Multiple sclerosis: effect of beta interferon treatment on survival,” was published in the journal Brain.
Beta-interferon formulations — which currently include EMD Serono’s Rebif, Biogen’s Plegridy and Avonex, Bayer’s Betaseron/Betaferon, and Novartis’ Extavia — were the first disease-modifying therapies to be approved for people with MS, and remain among the most commonly prescribed worldwide. However, despite showing effectiveness in short-term clinical trials, the effects of these treatments in longer periods need more research.
As long-term trials specifically designed to assess how disease-modifying therapies affect survival are neither feasible nor ethical, a team at University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute followed a group of 5,989 adults with relapsing MS. The group’s mean age was 42 years, 75% were female, and all were from British Columbia, Canada, and Rennes, France. The researchers explored the association of beta interferons with all-cause and MS-related mortality in the clinical setting.
More specifically, the group analyzed included patients with relapsing-remitting or secondary progressive MS, who were followed between 1986 and 2013 (average follow-up of 11 years). Neither patient had taken an immunosuppressant or a disease-modifying therapy at the study’s start.
The benefits of beta-interferons were compared to those of all other available therapies during the study, including Copaxone (glatiramer acetate, by Teva), immunosuppressants such as azathioprine or mitoxantrone, Tysabri (natalizumab, by Biogen), and Gilenya (fingolimod, by Novartis).
Over the study duration, 32% of the patients received a beta-interferon therapy for at least six months, 12% Copaxone for at least six months, and 13% another disease-modifying therapy for at least one day.
Results showed that taking beta-interferons for a minimum of six months was associated with a 32% lower mortality risk, compared to not receiving this type of treatment.
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