Mark Freedman, MD: Early Intervention With Interferon Beta-1b for Patients Presenting With CIS


The director of the multiple sclerosis research unit at Ottawa Hospital spoke about the results of BENEFIT 15 that support early intervention of interferon beta-1b treatment at or shortly after CIS.

"What was really eye-opening was to follow those patients over the ensuing 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, and 15 years plus, and that little head start continues to show itself as those patients are in the end still doing better than the ones that delayed therapy for a year."

At the Americas Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTRIMS) 2019 Forum held in Dallas, Texas, Mark Freedman, MD, spoke about the first results from BENEFIT 15 and the long-term clinical outcomes in patients with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) treated with interferon beta-1b.

BENEFIT 15 is a unique cohort with a 15-year follow-up from a clinical study of early or delayed treatment with interferon beta-1b in patients with CIS. Researchers randomly assigned patients with CIS and ≥2 MRI lesions suggestive of MS to receive interferon beta-1b or placebo. After 2 years or conversion to clinically definite MS, those on placebo were offered treatment with interferon beta-1b and 15 years after the initial randomization, all patients from participating study centers were approached to complete a comprehensive clinical and MRI reassessment. The results support a sustained benefit of early intervention with interferon beta-1b treating at or shortly after CIS in order to reduce the risk of conversion to CDMS.

The professor of neurology at the University of Ottawa, a senior scientist at the University of Ottawa, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, and director of the multiple sclerosis research unit at the Ottawa Hospital general campus, explained that the lesson everybody appreciates today is that treating earlier is better when dealing with a disease that can lead to cumulative damage. To provide additional insight into the early results of BENEFIT 15, Freedman spoke with NeurologyLive in an interview at the meeting.

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