March 11, 2002
The effects of long-term treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) with Betaferon® (interferon beta-1b) were presented at a Schering symposium for neurologists on March 9 in Vienna, Austria.
Results from the 12-year follow-up study, the longest period that any beta-interferon has been studied, showed sustained clinical benefits for the patients and high long-term patient compliance and tolerability.
Prof. George Rice, Department of Clinical Neurological Sciences, University of Western Ontario, Canada, and lead investigator of the follow-up study, commented: "We can see from this follow-up that early and prolonged treatment of MS using Betaferon results in a sustained benefit for patients in terms of their burden of disease when monitored by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In those patients who continue the treatment for 12 years, the drug was tolerated exceptionally well. The follow up was designed to look at MRI-based disease activity measures, not to examine the frequency and severity of attacks. Interferons are known to show a clear influence on the disease measured in this way: It is reassuring that this benefit is durable".
The follow-up study -- the longest ever conducted on the treatment of MS -- followed 31 patients with MS who had participated in the first placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial with a beta interferon (Betaferon). Over 12 years, Betaferon-treated patients showed a decrease in the burden of disease measured by MRI as compared to untreated patients.
The flu-like symptoms, which are seen frequently with beta-interferon use, were found to disappear over time, dropping from 66 percent to 5 percent in the 12th year. Another important observation from this follow-up was that neutralising antibodies, which tend to develop in the first years of treatment (about 40 percent of patients in this follow-up), disappeared in almost all patients.
"Together with the positive long-term benefit of Betaferon, the follow up has shown that many side effects that initially concerned people with MS disappear over time, an important fact for patients and physicians," said Dr Rice.
These encouraging results will be further evaluated in the other patients who participated in the pivotal trial.
SOURCE: Schering AG
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