Five people with multiple sclerosis (MS) who tested positive for COVID-19 while being treated with Aubagio (teriflunomide) all developed a mild infection, had good outcomes, and experienced no disease relapses, a case study reported.
These findings suggest that use of Aubagio, a disease-modifying therapy that acts on the immune system, does not need to be paused when patients are infected with the new coronavirus strain, its scientists wrote.
Their report “COVID‑19 in teriflunomide‑treated patients with multiple sclerosis” was published as an “original communication” in the Journal of Neurology.
Managing MS usually requires long-term immunotherapy to control the immune-mediated inflammation that damages myelin — an insulating sheath around nerve cells. Currently, almost 20 disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat MS.
Evidence suggests that DMTs which modulate the immune system can make people more prone to infection, and a possibility of repeat hospitalizations and poorer outcomes.
For these reasons, the current pandemic raised concerns among MS patients and their physicians of a viral infection risk. A number of specialists suggested that DMTs with higher immunosuppressive actions be discontinued in the case of an active COVID-19 infection in a patient.
Yet, stopping a therapy can pose a risk of MS reactivation or relapse, the study noted.
Researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital described five cases of MS patients using Aubagio — an approved oral therapy for relapsing forms of MS, marketed by Sanofi — with an active COVID-19 infection. All were taking Aubagio for at least six months prior to the viral infection, and continued with the treatment at their prescribed dose.
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