Beta interferons improve survival in people with MS

Research results show that patients with multiple sclerosis who take beta interferons for at least three years have increased survival compared with those who do not.

3D render of neurons in the brain

Beta interferons improve survival in patients with relapsing-onset multiple sclerosis (MS) when used for at least three years, research has shown[1]

The study, published in Brain (18 March 2019), used data from Canada and France on 5,989 people with relapsing-remitting MS who were naïve to disease-modifying therapies at study entry. 

During an average of 11 years of follow-up, 32% of people were exposed to beta-interferon for at least six months. Overall, there were 742 deaths owing to any cause and, of these, 649 were matched with between 1 and 20 controls by country, sex, age, year and disability level at study entry. 

It was found that those who received beta interferons were 32% less likely to die than unexposed individuals. When stratified by duration, those exposed to at least three years’ beta-interferon treatment had a 56% reduced risk of death while shorter exposure durations were not significantly related with survival.

Beta interferons are the most commonly used disease-modifying drugs in MS worldwide, but little is known of their effects on survival, the researchers explained.

“Further work is warranted to assess whether this survival advantage extends to other disease-modifying therapies [for MS] and whether this observed survival advantage results in a measurable improvement in the quality of life lived,” they concluded.


[1] Kingwell E, Leray E, Zhu F et al. Multiple sclerosis: effect of beta interferon treatment on survival. Brain 2019; awz055. doi: 10.1093/brain/awz055

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, May 2019, Vol 11, No 5;11(5):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2019.20206411

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