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More MS news articles for February 2003

Response to beta interferon 1b among Saudi patients with multiple sclerosis

Saudi Med J 2003 Jan;24(1):44-8
Kargwell H, Yaqub BA, Al-Deeb SM.
Department of Neurosciences, Armed Forces Hospital, PO Box 7897, Riyadh 11159, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Tel. +966 (1) 4777714 Ext. 5419. Fax. +966 (1) 4777194


To determine the efficacy and tolerability of subcutaneous beta interferon 1b (B1F1b) among Saudi patients with remitting-relapsing multiple sclerosis (R-R MS).


An open label study held at the Neurology Division of the Armed Forces Hospital, Riyadh from March 1997 until December 2001.

Thirty-two consecutive patients below the age of 50 years with clinically definite R-R MS according to Poser's Criteria and expanded disability status scale below 5.5 were enrolled in treatment with subcutaneous B1F1b 8 million IU 3 times a week.

The primary outcome measures used were: reduction in annual relapses, proportion of relapse-free patients, and the mean time to the first relapse after treatment was started.

The secondary outcome measures used were the time to progression in disability, tolerability and safety of the beta interferon.


Only 28 patients were analyzed to assess the outcome measures, the other 4 patients dropped out and were followed-up.

Twenty were women and 8 were men (female:male ratio of 2.5:1).

There was a significant reduction in relapse-rate in all patients, 32.5% were relapse-free, while 37.5% showed reduction in the number of relapses.

None of our patients showed progression of disability (P<0.0249).

Mild adverse reactions were seen in 38.5%, influenza-like illness occurred in 53.6%, and injection-site reaction in 35.7%.


Subcutaneous B1F1b is effective in patients with R-R MS, especially in reducing relapse rate, probable disability, and it is well tolerated.

However, longer follow-up is necessary to evaluate the role of B1F1b in preventing disability.