Multiple Sclerosis Drug Interferon Apparently Ineffective For Preventing Disability: Study

Multiple sclerosis progression is not abated by the most commonly prescribed drug for the autoimmune disease, interferon beta, a newly published study claims.

Multiple sclerosis is an incurable disease that attacks the central nervous system and can eventually cause muscle control and strength to deteriorate. It also affects vision, balance, and thinking. The disease can affect people differently, ranging from only minor problems to others who become severely disabled.

The study compared about 900 multiple sclerosis patients who took interferon beta with approximately 1,700 who didn’t. According to the New York Times, “those who took interferon beta were no less likely to suffer long-term disability than those who took none.” The Times notes, however, that the drug “does help reduce the development of brain lesions and limit the frequency of relapses.”

The study lead by Dr. Helen Tremlett of the University of British Columbia was just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study concluded as follows:

…we did not find evidence that administration of interferon beta was associated with a reduction in disability progression in patients with relapsing-remitting MS. The ultimate goal of treatment for MS is to prevent or delay long-term disability. Our findings bring into question the routine use of interferon beta drugs to achieve this goal in MS. It is, however, possible that a subgroup of patients benefit from interferon beta treatment and that this association would not be discernable in our comprehensive “real-world” study.

Relapse-remitting multiple sclerosis is apparently the most common form of the disease.

Ann Romney, former Gov. Mitt Romney’s wife, has struggled with multiple sclerosis for about 14 years.