, Volume 252, Issue 7, pp 795-800

Interferon beta in relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis

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Abstract

Background and objective

Long–term observational studies may provide additional information about the behaviour of different drugs in the post–marketing period. We present the data of our cohort of relapsing–remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) patients treated with interferon beta (IFNβ).

Methods

We analysed RRMS patients followed for at least 2 years. From 1995, we initiated therapy with IFNβ.As they became available, patients were allocated to one of the IFNs at standard doses (IFNβ–1b, IFNβ–1a i. m. or IFNβ–1a s. c.). Each patient was included in a follow–up protocol containing demographic and baseline clinical data.

Results

Between 1995 and 2004, 382 patients have completed at least 2 years of follow–up. Significant differences at entry were observed. Patients on IFNβ–1b had a higher disease activity and disability at baseline than those on IFNβ–1a i. m. or IFNβ–1a s. c. A significant reduction in the relapse rate was observed for the three drugs (70 % for IFNβ–1b, 64% for IFNβ–1a i. m. and 74 % for IFNβ–1a s. c.). We observed a sustained progression of disability in 11% of patients on IFNβ–1b, 17% on IFNβ–1a i. m. and 19% on IFNβ–1a s. c.; and at four years of follow–up in 24% of patients on IFNβ–1b, 23% on IFNβ–1a i. m. and 35% on IFNβ–1a s. c. No unexpected major adverse events were observed with any of the drugs.

Conclusions

Interferon beta is safe and well tolerated. The various registered interferon beta drugs provide a comparable efficacy in a large non–selected cohort of RRMS patients.