Conference Coverage

Switching from interferon beta-1a to alemtuzumab improves MS outcomes



Among patients with active relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) who have been treated with interferon beta-1a, switching to alemtuzumab improves clinical and MRI outcomes, according to an analysis presented at the annual meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers. These outcomes may be maintained for 6 years without continuous treatment, said the investigators.

The CARE-MS II study demonstrated alemtuzumab’s superior efficacy, compared with subcutaneous interferon beta-1a, over 2 years in patients with active relapsing-remitting MS who had had an inadequate response to previous therapy. The trial was followed by a 4-year extension, during which patients who had received interferon beta-1a were given the option of discontinuing that therapy and initiating alemtuzumab. The alemtuzumab regimen for these patients was 12 mg/day for 5 consecutive days at baseline, and the same dose for 3 consecutive days at 1 year. Additional annual alemtuzumab as needed for disease activity was allowed. At investigators’ discretion, patients could receive other disease-modifying therapy (DMT) at any time. After the 4-year extension, patients could continue in the 5-year TOPAZ extension.

Carolina Ionete, MD, a neurologist at University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, and colleagues examined data from the TOPAZ extension study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of alemtuzumab over 6 years in patients with relapsing-remitting MS from CARE-MS II who discontinued interferon beta-1a. In TOPAZ, patients can receive additional alemtuzumab (12 mg/day on 3 consecutive days at 12 or more months after the most recent course) or other DMTs at any time at investigators’ discretion.

In all, 143 patients started alemtuzumab in the extension study. Of this group 117 patients (82%) completed year 2 of TOPAZ (i.e., year 6 after initiating alemtuzumab). The annualized relapse rate at year 6 was 0.19, and the annual rate of freedom from relapse ranged from 83% to 90% during years 1 through 6. At year 6, Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) scores were stable (51%) or improved (17%) in 68% of patients, compared with the baseline of the main study. At year 6, the mean EDSS score change was 0.43. Over 6 years, 69% of patients were free from 6-month confirmed disability worsening, and 23% achieved 6-month confirmed disability improvement.

In addition, 69% of patients were free of MRI disease activity in year 6. The median percent cumulative brain volume loss from alemtuzumab initiation through year 6 was 0.53%, compared with 0.81% over 2 years with interferon beta-1a. Brain volume loss was 0.32% or less annually during years 2 through 6 after initiating alemtuzumab (0.04% at year 2, 0.15% at year 3, 0.14% at year 4, 0.07% at year 5, and 0.32% at year 6). These efficacy outcomes were observed as 57% of patients received neither additional alemtuzumab nor another DMT through year 6. Safety results were consistent with those for the alemtuzumab-treated patients in the core and extension studies.

Sanofi and Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals supported this study. Dr. Ionete received research support from Biogen, Roche, and Sanofi. She reported receiving compensation for advisory board participation from Sanofi.

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