NEW ORLEANS (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Safety and efficacy laboratory monitoring of adherence to disease-modifying therapies for multiple sclerosis remains challenging, results from a small pilot study showed.

In an effort to determine if select patients on specific DMTs are receiving appropriate and adequate monitoring as outlined by each DMT’s internal guidance document, Felecia Hart, PharmD, and her associates retrospectively reviewed existing patients treated for MS at the Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis Center at the University of Colorado, Denver, between June 1, 2013, and June 1, 2016.

The study, presented during a poster session at the annual meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, included patients who were started on one of four DMTs: fingolimod (Gilenya), rituximab (Rituxan), natalizumab (Tysabri), and dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera). The investigators evaluated adherence to the safety and efficacy monitoring outlined in each drug’s guidance document at baseline and through 1 year of treatment. Of the four DMT groups, they selected the first 50 patients who qualified for inclusion for chart review.

“What we wanted to know was, if patients are getting their infusions or lab work done elsewhere, are we properly documenting it and keeping track of it?” Dr. Hart said in an interview at the meeting. “We’re not looking for core outcomes yet.”

Dr. Hart, a clinical pharmacy neurology fellow at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, reported preliminary results from 50 patients treated with natalizumab and 50 treated with fingolimod. Among those treated with natalizumab, 49 had vitamin D measured within 6 months of drug initiation, 49 had a complete blood count measured within 1 year of drug initiation, and 49 had a comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) measured within 1 year of drug initiation. “Interestingly, the absent CBC and CMP were from different patients,” she said.

Among patients treated with fingolimod, all had CBC/CMP measured within 1 year of drug initiation, 48 had vitamin D measured within 6 months of drug initiation, and 47 had documented macular optical coherence tomography at baseline, but the proportion of patients who had adequate documentation for other recommended assessments declined significantly. For example, only 19 of 50 had a documented repeat echocardiography within 3 months of drug initiation. Also, several baseline measurements required prior to drug initiation were documented poorly or in an untimely manner. Four patients had their HIV-1 and -2 antibody measured after drug initiation, three had hepatitis B virus surface antigen measured after drug initiation, and three had varicella measured after drug initiation.

Even though the MS center has an electronic medical record system, Dr. Hart and her associates found it difficult to obtain and monitor the parameters of interest. “I’ve been working with our EMR for 6 years, so I know how to navigate it well,” she said. “But I found it difficult to do a simple chart review and find what I wanted to. We have a labs tab in our chart, but the difficulty became including patients who were coming from outside of our center. The lab and the order were referenced in a note but there was never any documentation after that. There are too many holes in getting it documented correctly.”

The findings suggest that having a dedicated clinician such as a clinical pharmacist to oversee pharmacovigilance may improve patient outcomes and ensure that safety and efficacy monitoring doesn’t inadvertently get overlooked because of difficulties with adequate documentation. “That would be ideal,” Dr. Hart said.

She reported having no financial disclosures.