Treating multiple sclerosis patients with interferon beta-1b immediately after a first neurological attack reduces progression of the disease compared with a delayed treatment, a study has shown.
A three-year trial of 392 MS patients shows treatment within 60 daysof afirst incident reduces the chances of developing clinically definite multiple sclerosis by 41% compared with delaying treatment for two years.
After a first attack, patients were either given interferon within 60 days or given a placebo, with the course continuing for two years.
After two years, the patients in the placebo group were given interferon for a yearand the remaining patients' interferon course carried on for a year.
In the early treatment group, 16% had confirmed progression of symptoms after three yearscompared with 24% in the delayed group.
Early treatment reduced the risk of disability by 40% compared with delayed treatment.
Lancet (2007) 370: 389-397