Pegylated Interferon Beta-1a for Multiple Sclerosis

AUGUST 24, 2015
MD Magazine Staff

The MD Magazine Peer Exchange "Modifying the Course of Multiple Sclerosis in New Ways: The Latest Advances in Treatment" features a distinguished panel of physician experts discussing key topics in multiple sclerosis (MS) research and management, including the latest insights into MS pathophysiology, new medication options and their application in clinical practice, and more.
This Peer Exchange is moderated by Paul Doghramji, MD, who is a family physician at Pottstown Memorial Medical Center in Pottstown, PA, and medical director of Health Services at Ursinus College, in Collegeville, PA.
The panelists are:
  • Fred D. Lublin, MD, FAAN, FANA, the Saunders Family Professor of Neurology and director of The Corinne Goldsmith Dickinson Center for Multiple Sclerosis, and co-chief editor of Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Patricia K. Coyle, MD, professor of neurology, vice chair of Clinical Affairs, and director of MS Comprehensive Care Center
  • Suhayl Dhib-Jalbut, MD, professor and chief of the Department of Neurology at Rutgers, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
The new pegylated interferon beta-1a is administered once every two weeks, which is less frequent than the other interferon betas are administered. Coyle summarized the two studies that were presented at the American Academy of Neurology meeting. One of these studies showed that pegylated interferon beta-1a was significantly more effective than placebo was in terms of annualized relapse rate, proportion of patients with relapses, and worsening of disability (as measured by EDSS) at both 12 and 24 weeks. The other study was an extension of the first one. Three years’ worth of data were being presented from this extension trial, which will go on to capture 4 years of data. This long-term study showed that pegylated interferon beta-1a continued to be well tolerated several years into therapy, with a very low rate of neutralizing antibodies and a low drop-out rate.
Coyle still has questions about whether or not to select pegylated interferon beta-1a for patients with significant preexisting headache, spasticity, or depression.
Just to clarify the terminology, Lublin enumerated the brand names for the new MS therapies: the pegylated interferon beta-1a is Plegridy, fingolimod is Gilenya, teriflunomide is Aubagio, dimethyl fumarate is Tecfidera, and alemtuzumab is also called Lemtrada.

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