Conference Coverage

Relapsing-remitting MS best treated within 6 months of onset



BERLIN – The optimal time to start disease-modifying treatments for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) is within 6 months of disease onset, according to real-world data from the Big Multiple Sclerosis Data Network.

Dr. Pietro Iaffaldano of the University of Bari (Italy) Sara Freeman/MDedge News

Dr. Pietro Iaffaldano

Receiving disease-modifying treatments (DMTs) within 6 months of diagnosis was associated with a 28% reduction in the risk of reaching an Expanded Disability Status Scale score of 3.0 or more for the first time at 12 months versus receiving treatment after 6 months (hazard ratio, 0.72; 95% confidence interval, 0.59-0.90; P = .003).

Results were not significant, looking at all the other periods tested at 6-month intervals from 1 year up to 5 years after diagnosis. HRs (95% CIs) comparing a first DMT given at 1 year, 1.5 years, 2 years, 2.5 years, 3 years, 3.5 years, 4 years, 4.5 years, and 5 years were a respective 0.90 (0.78-1.03), 0.89 (0.79-1.01), 0.99 (0.88-1.11), 0.95 (0.85-1.06), 1.01 (0.90-1.12), 0.97 (0.86-1.09), 1.09 (0.96-1.22), 1.11 (0.98-1.25), and 1.06 (0.93-1.20).

“To date, these data represent the largest RRMS cohort with the longest follow-up ever analyzed to determine the long-term effectiveness of the early start of DMTs,” said Pietro Iaffaldano, MD, at the annual congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis.

“This study also provides evidence that data sharing from MS registries and databases is feasible,” noted Dr. Iaffaldano, who is assistant professor of neurology at the University of Bari (Italy). Such an approach can provide enough statistical power to detect the impact of treatment on disability outcomes in the long term, he suggested.

For the study, a cohort of 11,934 patients was obtained by screening more than 149,636 patients from five large registries and databases of MS patients – the Italian MS Registry, the Swedish MS Registry, the Danish MS Registry, OFSEP (Observatoire Français de al Sclérose en Plaques), and MSBase. Patients were included in the current analysis if they had at least 10 years of follow-up, had at least three EDSS evaluations, and at least one DMT prescription.

“It is well known that randomized, controlled trials support the early start of treatment in MS, but open-label extensions of the same trials reported inconsistent results about the long-term benefit on disability accumulation,” Dr. Iaffaldano explained. Further, recent observational studies have suggested that initiating DMTs early might not only delay the accumulation of disability but perhaps also death.

The aim of the research was thus to look at what effect the time interval from disease onset to the first administration of a DMT might have on long-term disability accumulation, as measured by the EDSS, in patients with RRMS.

The population of patients studied was mostly (71%) female, with a median age of 27 years at disease onset. The number of relapses prior to starting a DMT was two and the baseline EDSS was 2.0. In almost all (98.9%) cases, DMT was used as first-line treatment (second line in 1.1% of cases). The median follow-up was 13.2 years and cumulative DMT exposure was 10.5 years.

The work was supported by Biogen International on the basis of a sponsored research agreement with the Big Multiple Sclerosis Data Network. Dr. Iaffaldano has served on scientific advisory boards for and received funding for travel and/or speaker honoraria from Biogen and other companies that market DMTs for MS. Several study authors are employees of Biogen, and other study authors also reported financial ties to Biogen and other pharmaceutical companies.

SOURCE: Iaffaldano P et al. Mult Scler. 2018;24(Suppl 2):71-2, Abstract 204.