Practice guideline recommendations summary: Disease-modifying therapies for adults with multiple sclerosis

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Abstract

Objective

To develop recommendations for disease-modifying therapy (DMT) for multiple sclerosis (MS).

Methods

A multidisciplinary panel developed DMT recommendations, integrating findings from a systematic review; followed an Institute of Medicine–compliant process to ensure transparency and patient engagement; and developed modified Delphi consensus–based recommendations concerning starting, switching, and stopping DMTs pertinent to people with relapsing-remitting MS, secondary progressive MS, primary progressive MS, and clinically isolated syndromes of demyelination. Recommendations were supported by structured rationales, integrating evidence from one or more sources: systematic review, related evidence (evidence not from the systematic review), principles of care, and inference from evidence.

Results

Thirty recommendations were developed: 17 on starting DMTs, including recommendations on who should start them; 10 on switching DMTs if breakthrough disease develops; and 3 on stopping DMTs. Recommendations encompassed patient engagement strategies and individualization of treatment, including adherence monitoring and disease comorbidity assessment. The panel also discussed DMT risks, including counseling about progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy risk in people with MS using natalizumab, fingolimod, rituximab, ocrelizumab, and dimethyl fumarate; and made suggestions for future research to evaluate relative merits of early treatment with higher potency DMTs vs standard stepped-care protocols, DMT comparative effectiveness, optimal switching strategies, long-term effects of DMT use, definitions of highly active MS, and effects of treatment on patient-specified priority outcomes. This guideline reflects the complexity of decision-making for starting, switching, or stopping MS DMTs. The field of MS treatment is rapidly changing; the Academy of Neurology development process includes planning for future updates.

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