Combining Two Most Common MS Drugs Fails to Cut Relapse Risk

But MRI analysis shows combo does reduce new lesion activity, accumulation of total lesion volumes
FRIDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) -- A combination of interferon beta-1a (IFN) and glatiramer acetate (GA) therapy does not provide added clinical benefit to patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study published online March 11 in the Annals of Neurology.
Fred D. Lublin, M.D., from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and colleagues randomized 1,008 patients with relapsing-remitting MS to a combination group using IFN 30 µg intramuscularly weekly and GA 20 mg daily, or either agent alone. Participants were followed for three years.
The researchers found that the combination IFN + GA was not superior to GA in risk of relapse, but both the combination therapy and GA were significantly better than IFN in reducing the risk of relapse. As far as lessening confirmed Expanded Disability Status Scale progression or change in Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite score over 36 months, the combination was not better than either agent alone. However, in reducing new lesion activity and accumulation of total lesion volumes, the combination was superior to either agent alone. Combination therapy resulted in a higher proportion of participants attaining disease activity-free status compared to either single arm, driven by the MRI results in post-hoc analysis.
"Combining the two most commonly prescribed therapies for multiple sclerosis did not produce a significant clinical benefit over three years," the authors write.
Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.
Abstract (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ana.23863/abstract )Full Text (subscription or payment may be required) (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ana.23863/full )