Many MS Patients Experience Relapses, Disease Progression After Stopping Tx

About 40% of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) experienced relapses or disease progression after discontinuing disease-modifying treatment, in an international, multi-site study presented at the 67th American Academy of Neurology’s (AAN) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Ilya Kister, MD, from the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, and colleagues prospectively studied 181 patients from the global observational database MSBase Registry who had stopped taking their disease-modifying medications. All patients were aged ≥40, had experienced no relapses, reported stable disability progression for at least five years, and had been taking medication for at least three years. Patients were followed for at least three years after discontinuation of medications.

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Twenty-four percent of patients experienced a clinician-reported relapse after discontinuing treatment while 32% sustained three-month disability progression; approximately 10% recorded both relapses and disability progression. Forty-two percent restarted medication after a median of 22 months, which was associated with a 59% risk reduction of disability progression.

The researchers stress that randomized controlled trials are needed to guide patients and clinicians on safely discontinuing disease-modifying medications and potential short- and long-term outcomes. The risks and benefits of any disease-modifying treatment should be carefully considered when making decisions on discontinuation of these medications.

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