7:49 p.m. ET (2350 GMT) June 9, 1999
Jun 09 (Reuters Health) - Ibuprofen reduces the frequency of flu-like side effects caused by the drug interferon beta-1b, used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS).
"Reducing these side effects brings relief for patients," said researcher Dr. Robert Knobler of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
"It may also allow patients to tolerate higher doses of the drug, which may be more effective in treating the disease," he added in a statement from the American Academy of Neurology.
Previous studies showed that over 50% of patients taking interferon experienced such side effects. In the new study, the research team found that combining 400 milligrams of ibuprofen three times a day with standard interferon therapy reduced the proportion of patients experiencing symptoms to 17%.
Changing the interferon schedule to a gradually increasing dose supplemented
with ibuprofen treatment reduced the frequency of flu-like symptoms even
further, to 6%, according to the researchers, led by Dr. G.P.A. Rice from
the London Health Sciences Center in London, Ontario, Canada. By comparison,
six times as many patients with the new
schedule, but without ibuprofen, experienced fever, chills, muscle aches, or other flu symptoms, according to results published in the June issue of the journal Neurology.
For reasons that were not clear, patients receiving ibuprofen also had slightly more reactions at the site of the interferon injections, but only during the first 4 weeks of treatment.
Based on these results, the authors conclude that using ibuprofen-like drugs and gradually increasing the dose of interferon can significantly improve the ability of multiple sclerosis patients to tolerate this effective therapy.
SOURCE: Neurology 1999;52:1833-1835