Copaxone and the Interferon Betas Are Clinically Similar

February 10, 2015 Peiqing Qian, M.D.

Copaxone and the interferon betas (IFN-β) are both effective treatments for a relapsing form of multiple sclerosis (MS). A new study finds that MS patients followed over 10 years have similar annualized relapse rates (ARR) whether they take Copaxone or one of the interferon betas.

This recent study looked at 10 years of data on over 3,000 RRMS patients and found that Copaxone and IFN-β were similarly successful in reducing relapses. In the new study, researchers collected data on 3,326 RRMS patients who were using either IFN-β or Copaxone as their first-ever disease-modifying therapy (DMT) for at least 6 months, and had started treatment within 10 years of their first symptom. To be included in the study, patients also had to have had at least one relapse recorded during the two years leading up to the start of their initial DMT.

The researchers looked at patients in four different treatment groups: Avonex (IM), Rebif (SC), Betaseron, and Copaxone. They noted that, generally, patients treated with Avonex IM were less disabled at baseline than patients treated with the other interferons. Patients on Copaxone were also generally older than patients on interferons. The researchers then paired each treatment group in six different head-to-head comparisons. The patients were also matched in clinical and demographic characteristics in each comparison.

For all treatments, the average annualized relapse rate (ARR) ranged from 0.38 to 0.56 relapses per year. The researchers noted that patients in the Copaxone and Rebif groups had the lowest average ARR. The study did not have the other outcome measures such as MRI data.

The conclusion was Copaxone and the IFN-βs are relatively similar in reducing ARR. None of the treatments showed major differences in accrued disability over time. Similar reviews on newer treatment options may be available soon.

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