Katie Brind’Amour (left), my expert guest blogger, fills in the gaps in my knowledge about Interferon. She’s a Certified Health Education Specialist and freelance health and wellness writer based in America who writes for Healthline.com and WomensHealthcareTopics.com:
Here’s to a Long, Healthy Life
MS is no longer the threat to life expectancy as it once was. Why? Meds and research. Yay!
One of these meds, often used in treating relapsing-remitting MS, is known as interferon beta-1b. Introduced over 20 years ago, it may just be one of the most important MS drugs on the market and is typically used to reduce the number of MS flare-ups experienced by individuals with relapsing-remitting MS.
Interferon beta-1b is an injected drug taken every other day. It is a man-made drug that serves the function of a naturally occurring protein in the body. The medication is not necessarily used permanently and may be regularly adjusted in dosage based on side effects, effectiveness, and changing patient needs.
A Look at Interferon Beta-1B
Since the landmark interferon beta-1b trial at the University of California, the news regarding interferon beta-1b seems to have gotten even better. When the drug was first being tested, MS patients were split into groups—two of which received different dosages of the interferon beta-1b injections and one of which received a placebo. After the trial ended and successfully demonstrated the potential of interferon beta-1b to reduce the number of MS attacks, participants were followed for over two decades. They were allowed to take any and all medications that they and their doctors saw fit after the trial ended.
In a recent follow-up study, the researchers checked back in with participants to find out if interferon beta-1b had any longer-term impact on MS. Patients who had received interferon beta-1b were, in fact, significantly less likely to have died of MS-related problems. Although the cohort is still rather young on average, most people in the interferon beta-1b groups that died fell prey to what kills the rest of the world—cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and accidents. People who hadn’t been in the initial interferon beta-1b group were more likely to have died by the follow-up period, but virtually all of the “excess deaths” in that group were attributable to MS-related problems.
It is important to note that the follow-up study can’t tell whether the ability of interferon beta-1b to reduce MS-related death is due to early exposure or simply a longer lifetime exposure level to the drug. Either way, however, it shows that interferon beta-1b seems to have dramatically narrowed the life expectancy gap for MS patients with relapse-remitting MS. And that’s a darn good thing.
Good News for MS Patients
Treatments and novel therapies are targeting every stage of MS to help make life better for individuals with the diagnosis. Since MS can feel like a chronic downer as much as a chronic illness, it’s good to keep these positive developments in mind.
Slowly but surely, we’re getting better at preventing MS progression and delaying MS-related disabilities. MS specialists are learning how to identify symptoms earlier, select the best treatments quicker, address complications more appropriately, and give patients the tools they need to feel confident and capable in their battle against MS.
And this is all surely good news. I’ll drink to that!
Well that sounds encouraging! I would be interested to read the numbers on this research, do you have a link to a report or article that a lay person would understand?
I will email Katie and ask her to respond, I’m sure she’ll have an article. Also, the MS Society or MS Trust might have some info? It’s a topic I know next to nothing about, sadly! Good to fill in the gaps in my knowledge, lol.
Interesting. Really good news but I have to say that being an interferon 1a injector, I’m a bit annoyed that we aren’t encouraged to choose 1b if the results are good like this.
I am a bit confused as to why the interferon comes in either a or b, we have a hell of a time choosing when they know all along what would be more effective long term.
Just throwing it out there for discussion.
Thank you for the different view of things. I know very little about interferon so it’s really interesting to read about.
I also didn’t know there were two types!
We’ll get the expert view from Katie later hopefully.
Hope all is going well with you?
Ooh, science! Normally, I’d run away screaming, as science and math make my brain hurt. But this is interesting. Can Katie tell us which MS drugs are interferon-based? I’m not sure all of them are, but as I said, science makes my brain shut down, so I may have glazed over when my neuro discussed this with me eons ago.
Good question. Hoping Katie can answer it!
I’m the same as you. My eyes glaze over with anything science-y, but the study is interesting.
A lot of my friends are on interferon so hope they find this post helpful too!
Oops, better get back to work – boss is sighing rather loudly at seeing me on my phone again, lol.
Thank you for your comments. I’m sorry some of the science and links were complicated. This NIH link has some good basic info: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a601151.html. In addition, the National MS Society has a bit of info on the drugs that have beta 1b as their active ingredients, as well as more info on their side effects. http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/treatments/medications/interferon-beta-1b/index.aspx#. As for beta 1b vs beta 1a, I don’t know enough (my apologies) yet about any difference in effectiveness, but they both have been shown useful for people with relapse-remitting MS (http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/treatments/medications/interferons/index.aspx). I hope some of these links help you all find the additional info you are looking for!
Thank you SO much for your reply, really informative. It’s a complex subject, with positive and negative viewpoints.
p.s. thank you again for being such a great guest blogger!
Thank you very much for these links.
Thank you for the information. I will read tomorrow when I am more awake!
Should go to bed really, being stubborn 😉
Thanks once again, I’m so grateful for these treatments xx
Can only blame it on the chicken tikka wrap and unlimited Diet Coke in work today, lol.
I too am grateful for the treatments I have had. Compared to my dad who died way back in 1978 with absolutely no treatment options whatsoever (he had PPMS).
Hope you sleep well! I’ve got some hot chocolate, fingers crossed.
after watching a video of how to prepare this medicine so you can inject it, i’m glad i am on rebif. its a lot of work if you have problems with your hands
Very good point! Can’t imagine having to inject myself either – total needle freak:-(
its not that bad, besides the bruising, it actually is pretty easy. you dont really see the needle except to put it in the injector