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BACKGROUND: Evidence for efficacy of disease-modifying drugs in multiple sclerosis (MS) comes from trials of short duration. We report results from a 16 y, retrospective follow-up of the pivotal interferon beta-1b (IFNB-1b) study. METHODS: The 372 trial patients were randomly assigned to placebo (n=123), IFNB-1b 50 microg (n=125) or IFNB-1b 250 microg (n=124) subcutaneously every other day for at least 2 y. Some remained randomised for up to 5 y but, subsequently, patients received treatment according to physicians' discretion. Patients were re-contacted and asked to participate. Efficacy related measures included MRI parameters, relapse rate, the Expanded Disability Status Scale, the Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite Measure and conversion to secondary progressive MS. RESULTS: Of the 88.2% (328/372) of patients who were identified, 69.9% (260/372) had available case report forms. No differences in outcome between original randomisation groups could be discerned using standard disability and MRI measures. However, mortality rates among patients originally treated with IFNB-1b were lower than in the original placebo group (18.3% (20/109) for placebo versus 8.3% (9/108) for IFNB-1b 50 microg and 5.4% (6/111) for IFNB-1b 250 microg). CONCLUSIONS: The original treatment assignment could not be shown to influence standard assessments of long-term efficacy. On-study behaviour of patients was influenced by factors that could not be controlled with the sacrifice of randomisation and blinding. Mortality was higher in patients originally assigned to placebo than those who had received IFNB-1b 50 microg or 250 microg. The dataset provides important resources to explore early predictors of long-term outcome.

Original publication

DOI

10.1136/jnnp.2009.204123

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry

Publication Date

08/2010

Volume

81

Pages

907 - 912

Keywords

Aged, Disability Evaluation, Disease Progression, Double-Blind Method, Endpoint Determination, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Interferon beta-1b, Interferon-beta, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Middle Aged, Multiple Sclerosis, Survival Analysis, Treatment Outcome