The role of DMTs
The evidence suggests that DMTs are affecting the long-term progression of MS, said Dr. Kister. Palace et al. compared patients with MS in the UK who received treatment with interferon-beta with a modeled untreated cohort of patients in British Columbia. They found that treated patients reached an EDSS of 6 4 years later than did untreated patients.
Furthermore, an analysis by Brown et al. showed that the time to conversion to secondary progressive MS was longer among treated patients, compared with untreated patients. The risk of conversion was lower for patients treated with newer, more effective therapies (i.e., fingolimod, alemtuzumab, or natalizumab) than for those treated with glatiramer acetate or interferon beta.
Finally, Kingwell and colleagues examined the effect of treatment with interferon-beta on survival using an international cohort of approximately 6,000 patients with relapsing-remitting MS. They found that exposure to interferon-beta for more than 3 years was associated with a 32% reduction in the risk of mortality. They observed no similar risk reduction among patients exposed to interferon-beta for 6 months to 3 years.
Although these data are encouraging, other evidence indicates that the prevalence of MS in the United States has increased considerably in the past 40 years. Researchers estimate that 1 million Americans have MS, which “suggests that we are diagnosing many more mild cases,” said Dr. Kister. The burden of the disease remains high, he concluded.
Dr. Kister reported receiving consulting fees or research grants from Biogen, Roche, Genzyme and Genentech.
SOURCE: Kister I et al. ECTRIMS 2019. Abstract 281754.