Reduced mortality found with common drug used to treat MS

March 18, 2019 (ScienceDaily) 

A “widely prescribed” drug for multiple sclerosis (MS) is associated with prolonged survival in those with the disease, according to the latest research conducted by scientists from the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.

This study, which found that mortality was 32 percent lower in those who took a beta interferon drug than in those who did not take this type of treatment, is now published and can be found in the journal Brain.

Close to 6,000 people with relapsing-onset MS from Canada and France were followed for over two decades, making this the first and largest study to determine association between mortality and a beta interferon therapy for those with MS.

Below are key features of the study:

  • 5,989 participants
  • This study followed individuals with relapsing-onset MS from 1986-2013 in British Columbia and France
  •  The mean age of participants was 42 for those who had not received drug treatments for MS prior to the start of the study
  • The mean age at death was 61 for the 742 individuals who did not survive until the end of the study

When compared to those with MS who did not take a beta interferon, taking a beta interferon for a minimum of 6 months was associated with a reduced mortality risk. Furthermore, those who took a beta interferon for over 3 years had an even stronger association with prolonged survival. This prolonged survival was seen even in those who began taking the beta interferon after the age of 40, or 5 or more years post-MS onset.

An important outcome of this study was that not only were findings consistent between the two geographic groups, but also between both men and women, making the results of this study promising.

Being that “longevity is not everything,” next, researchers plan to look into improving quality of life and test the association survival of MS with of other forms of treatment.  

Learn more about this first-of-its-kind study here.