A small pilot study from the University of Southern California suggests a pulse adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) therapy could be effective in patients with breakthrough multiple sclerosis attacks while on beta-interferon. “Breakthrough” attacks that occur after starting a disease modifying therapy (DMT).
The study compared the safety and benefits of monthly pulse ACTH to monthly methylprednisone (MP) pulse in patients on beta-interferon. Over 15 months, researchers found that those treated with ACTH had fewer relapses and fewer psychiatric side effects. ACTH gel is currently used to treat MS relapses, but researchers note it may be able to alter the body’s immune responses beyond producing steroids.
As I discussed with the Medscape reporter, Megan Brooks, last week, the results of this study are impressive but would also need to be reproduced on a larger scale. Also, with the many therapies currently available for relapsing MS, how many people would opt to add another injectable drug on top of their baseline injectable instead of switching therapies altogether? At a time when patients and their neurologists are struggling to get insurers to pay for their DMT's because of the significant cost of these drugs, would it not be cheaper to switch therapies rather than use two expensive therapies?
Researchers will present their abstract this week at the American Academy of Neurology 65th Annual Meeting in San Diego (you can read the full story on Medscape here).
For more information about multiple sclerosis treatment options, visit www.swedish.org/MS