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Multiple sclerosis: effect of beta interferon treatment on survival

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Published:30th Apr 2019
Author: Kingwell E, Leray E, Zhu F, Petkau J, Edan G, Oger J et al.
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Ref.:Brain. 2019;142(5):1324-1333.
Multiple sclerosis: effect of beta interferon treatment on survival

Worldwide, the beta interferons remain the most commonly prescribed disease-modifying drugs for multiple sclerosis. However, it is unclear if they alter survival. We investigated the association between beta interferon and mortality in the 'real-world' setting. This was a multi-centre population-based observational study of patients with relapsing-onset multiple sclerosis who were initially registered at a clinic in British Columbia, Canada (1980-2004) or Rennes, France (1976-2013).

Data on this cohort were accessed from the clinical multiple sclerosis databases and from individually linked health administrative data; all data were collected prospectively. Participants were followed from the latter of their first multiple sclerosis clinic visit, 18th birthday or 1 January 1996; until death, emigration or 31 December 2013. Only those who were naïve to disease-modifying therapy and immunosuppressant treatment of multiple sclerosis at the start of their follow-up were included in the analysis. A nested case-control approach was used. Up to 20 controls, matched to cases (deaths) by country, sex, age ± 5 years, year and disability level at study entry, were randomly selected from the cohort by incidence density sampling. The associations between all-cause mortality and at least 6 months beta interferon exposure, and also cumulative exposure ('low', 6 months to 3 years; and 'high', >3 years), were estimated by conditional logistic regression adjusting for treatment with other disease-modifying therapies and age in years. Further analyses included separate analyses by sex and country, additional adjustment for comorbidity burden in the Canadian cohort, and estimation of the association between beta interferon and multiple sclerosis-related death in both countries. Among 5989 participants (75% female) with a mean age of 42 (standard deviation, SD 11) years at study entry, there were 742 deaths (70% female) and the mean age at death was 61 (SD 13) years. Of these cases, 649 were matched to between one and 20 controls. Results of the conditional logistic regression analyses are expressed as adjusted odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals. The odds of beta interferon exposure were 32% lower among cases than controls (0.68; 0.53-0.89). Increased survival was associated with >3 years beta interferon exposure (0.44; 0.30-0.66), but not between 6 months and 3 years exposure (1.00; 0.73-1.38). Findings were similar within sex and country, and for multiple sclerosis-related death. Beta interferon treatment was associated with a lower mortality risk among people with relapsing-onset multiple sclerosis. Findings were consistent between two geographically distinct regions in North America and Europe.

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