Posted by: Thixia | April 30, 2008

Research – balance between short and long-term treatment

The search for a balance between short and long-term treatment outcomes in multiple sclerosis.

 

 

 Multiple sclerosis is a lifelong, immune-mediated progressive disorder. The early age of onset and the chronic nature of the disease with accumulation of physical disability, demand a long-term (“lifelong”) management, including disease-modifying immunomodulatory therapies and symptomatic treatments.

 

The ultimate goal in the long-term management of multiple sclerosis is to prevent or delay the appearance of permanent neurological disability. Due to improvements in the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, it is now possible to initiate treatment early in the disease process. To this end, first-line immunomodulatory treatments such as glatiramer acetate and beta-interferons are available that reduce the rate of relapses and disease activity as measured with magnetic resonance imaging.

 

However, the short duration of clinical trials provides little information about long-term changes in disability over time. In the case of glatiramer acetate, a long-term, open-label extension of the pivotal trial has provided prospective data on systematic regular follow-up of all patients who had ever received the drug during the original trial or its extension.

 

Of 232 patients analysed, 108 were still participating in the study an average of ten years after treatment was initiated. Despite the limitations of open-label trials, this study has provided some evidence for a sustained reduction in frequency and severity of relapses and in the rate of accrual of disability. Such long-term data, which demonstrate safety, tolerability and sustained clinical benefit, help improve patient care and may contribute to patients taking a more positive view of treatment.

 

Effective immunomodulatory treatment needs comprehensive information and education of the patient to establish long-term adherence, a critical determinant of long-term outcome. A multidisciplinary approach through a health care team is the optimal strategy, with encouragement to continue the therapy.

 

Dept. of Neurology,

Landesklinikum, 3100

St. Poelten, Austria.

 

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