NATIONAL HARBOR, MD. (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) A real-world comparison of relapse rates in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients for five disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) found the largest decrease for delayed-release dimethyl fumarate (DMF) followed by fingolimod. Patients were less likely to adhere to treatment involving teriflunomide, glatiramer acetate, or interferon-beta (IFN-beta).

Real-world outcome data have been limited, so these findings from nearly 6,400 patients presented as a poster at the annual meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers will likely be important in guiding decisions on therapy in the management of MS.

“We need real-world data to better understand the behavior of these drugs in our real-world patients. We learn a tremendous amount from phase II and III clinical trials. We attempt to look at clinical trial results and then extrapolate to our real-world patient. However, by virtue of their design, clinical trial populations represent an incomplete MS demographic,” said Dr. Aaron Boster of Riverside Methodist Hospital, Columbus, Ohio.

The retrospective study collected claims data from Truven Health MarketScan databases between January 2012 and September 2014 for adults with MS who commenced DMT with an oral or injectable drug. Annualized relapse rates (ARRs) and DMT adherence were compared for teriflunomide (n = 500), fingolimod (n = 579), IFN-beta (n = 884), glatiramer acetate (n = 1,057), and DMF (n = 3,352).

The primary outcome was ARR, which was determined before and after initiation of DMT, based on the number of MS-related relapses before and in the year following initiation of therapy. Adherence to therapy was measured using the proportion of days covered within the first year after therapy began.

The DMF cohort had the largest reduction in unadjusted ARR, from 0.425 prior to therapy to 0.296 after therapy began (–0.129; P less than .0001), followed by those treated with fingolimod, from 0.442 prior to therapy to 0.307 following therapy (–0.135; P less than .001).

After researchers adjusted for baseline demographics, clinical characteristics, and prior DMT exposure, DMF was associated with significantly lower ARR than was glatiramer acetate, IFN-beta, and teriflunomide. DMF remained better than fingolimod, but the difference was not significant.

Relative to the DMF cohort, the adjusted incidence rate ratio of ARR in the year after DMT began was 1.34 (95% confidence interval, 1.17-1.53) for glatiramer acetate, 1.27 (95% CI, 1.10-1.46) for IFN-beta, 1.23 (95% CI, 1.05-1.45) for teriflunomide, and 1.03 (95% CI, 0.88-1.21) for fingolimod.

“Despite differences in patient demographics and comorbidities between DMT clinical trial populations and these U.S. claims data, the real-world effectiveness reported here is consistent with previous mixed and indirect treatment comparisons based on clinical trial data,” Dr. Boster and his colleagues said.

The implied differences in the real-world comparative effectiveness of the various DMTs should be considered when making decisions about the best therapy to manage MS, according to the researchers.

Dr. Boster disclosed research funding from Genentech, Actelion, and Mallinckrodt, and has received consulting/speaking remuneration from Genzyme, Novartis, Teva, Biogen, and Medtronic. The other researchers have received compensation from or are employees of Biogen.