By Jill Stein
Special to DG News
PHILADELPHIA, PA -- May 9, 2001-- New findings indicate that Avonex (interferon beta-1a) is an effective treatment for secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS).
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Avonex for the treatment of relapsing remitting MS.
The data, from a phase III study reported at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), showed that patients with secondary progressive MS who were treated with Avonex had a 40 percent decrease in the progression of disability compared to patients who received a placebo.
"Our results are important because they demonstrate that Avonex also benefits patients at later stages of the disease," said Dr. Jeffrey A. Cohen, with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Cleveland Clinic.
Currently, none of the FDA approved drugs for the treatment of relapsing remitting MS has been approved for the treatment of the secondary progressive form of the disease. The present study tested the efficacy of Avonex for the treatment of the more progressive form of the disease.
The trial included 426 patients with clinically definite MS, a secondary progressive course with or without recent relapses, and a baseline Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score of 3.5-6.5 inclusive.
Subjects were randomized to treatment with Avonex 60 µg or placebo by weekly intramuscular injection.
The primary disease end point was disease progression as measured by the MS Functional Composite Score (MSFC), a measurement of ambulation, arm movement and cognitive function.
In addition to a decrease in the median disability progression favoring Avonex, Avonex-treated patients had a 33 percent decrease in the disease relapse rate.
No benefit was seen on clinical measures driven by ambulation.
Avonex-treated patients also had improvement in eight of 11 Quality of Life Inventory subscales and experienced a reduction in new or enlarging T2 hyper-intense cranial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) lesions and gadolinium enhancements at months 12 and 24.
Multiple Sclerosis Secondary Progressive Avonex Clinical Trial (IMPACT)
was conducted at 42 centers in Europe and North America.
Related Link: Avonex (interferon beta-1a) http://www.pslgroup.com/dg/Avonex.htm.