Am I less likely to get secondary progressive MS?

So I like to take a pretty keen interest in research and this week I was surprised to read that patients who are treated with Tysabri, fingolimod or lemtrada are less likely to progress from relapse remitting MS to secondary progressive MS compared to those being treated with some of the more traditional treatments such as interferons. Yippee me thinks.

But what does this really mean, and how much further work is to be done? Well according to the research study approximately 1500 patients from around the world (in twenty odd countries took part). Actually, I was pretty surprised when I read this as it was far larger than I expected.

One of the things that they reported was that patients on treatment were less likely to progress overall to SPMS than people who were not receiving any treatment. They saw that 27% of people who were untreated converted to the secondary form of the disease compared with 12% of those on interferons for example. However, the also found that those on tysabri, lemtrada and fingolimod was associated with an even lower risk of conversion to the secondary form of the disease.

Being someone who is on one of these treatments, this was news to my ears, as I am always afraid of what the future looks like. Currently the treatment course that I am on is one of the top tier drugs for MS – one in which a neurologist can only prescribe when the MS is highly active.

Some of the lower tier drugs, such as interferon beta for example are less effective (although they do work very well in less active forms of MS). I have been really lucky because the higher tier drug that I have been prescribed reduces the relapses that I had by more than 70% compared to those of a lower tier, which as I remember only causes a reduction of about 30%.

Although further work needs to be done to understand progression to secondary progressive MS – research such as this can aid in the decision in disease modifying therapies based on the disease course and potential progression.

What drugs are you on and did you get a choice in the matter? Did your neurologist offer you any alternatives at the point of diagnosis? have you changed drugs over the course of your disease? I would love to hear from you about this…

I am going to be writing a blog soon about how I was offered a different drug and what I have decided to do…

See you soon xx


2 thoughts on “Am I less likely to get secondary progressive MS?

  1. Hey Zoe. I was on a clinical trial for almost two years and was getting Avonex when it was unblinded. I came off it as the side effects were affecting my QOL. I relapsed during my dry out period and have been on Gilenya since then with NEDA for 5 years. I really hope this continues. It’s a tough decision to choose a medication. The more understandable, science based information- the better!


    1. It’s interesting isn’t it because so many people are on Avonex and are doing brilliantly on it! One of the things I do wonder about NEDA is that although you can have no clinical signs of disease, you can still have symptoms. I have become really aware of the impact of this recently when trying to get life insurance. Although my scans are clinically stable and have been for years, because I still have active MS in the sense I have symptoms in spite of this, they won’t class me as NEDA.
      I do wonder if there’s any person with MS out there who is totally symptom free?!!


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