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RRMS Patients on Beta-Interferon Therapy Have Increased Risk of Stroke

May 17, 2017

A new study published in the journal, Neurology, revealed potential adverse reactions to beta-interferon (IFN- β) therapy, which is one of the most common treatments used for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). The research team evaluated the healthcare records of 2,485 patients with RRMS who were registered at the British Columbia Multiple Sclerosis Clinic between 1995 and 2008. Among these patients, 1,031 were treated with IFN- β and followed for a mean period of eight years. Researchers thus found that these RRMS patients presented a higher incidence rate of some adverse effects. The study showed that patients have an increased risk of stroke, migraine, depression, and of developing abnormalities in the blood.

Some of the side effects reported in the study had already been recognized and included in the safety profile of IFN- β. However, stroke had not been. But besides the potential adverse effects, the authors of the study also found beneficial effects. People undergoing this therapy longer than two years showed a reduced risk of bronchitis and upper respiratory infections, which can be a common problem among these patients.

“It is important for patients with multiple sclerosis to have ongoing review of the benefits and risks of therapy, and to identify supportive strategies, such as diet and exercise, that could optimize their brain health,” said Anthony Traboulsee, co-author of the study and director of the MS Clinic at the University of British Columbia.