Have interferons proven to be the breakthrough patients with multiple sclerosis hoped for?


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Abstract

IN BRIEFInterferons (IFNs) have been heralded as a great advance in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). All 3 of the currently available forms of IFNβ reduce the number of exacerbations experienced by patients with relapsing-remitting MS. However, only IFNβ-1a has been shown to have a significant effect on slowing disease progression in these patients. Whether the difference in efficacy between the various forms of IFNβ are real or just a reflection of differences in study design is unknown.Patients treated with IFNβ may develop neutralising antibodies (NAbs) against the drug; however, the clinical implication of the presence of NAbs has yet to be established.Adverse effects, including flu-like symptoms and injection site reactions occur frequently. Patient education, particularly concerning adverse effects, is important as this can improve complicance with treatment.Although these drugs represent an advance in treatment of MS, there are still many unanswered questions regarding their use.

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