The use of disease-modifying drugs for multiple sclerosis can lead to fewer hospital stays and long-term savings on medical expenses, a recent study found. Hospitalization rates were as much as 44 percent lower, depending on the type of DMD a person was taking.
“Our findings provide real-world evidence that will help people living with MS and their doctors make decisions about treatments,” Dr. Huah Shin Ng, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia and lead author of the study, told MyMSTeam. “Fewer hospital stays could represent a major health care cost avoidance and lower disease burden for people with MS and their families.”
DMDs are a class of treatments that work to reduce inflammation in people with MS. They can help stave off relapses in people with relapsing forms of the disease, and they may reduce the severity of relapses as well.
For the study, published in Multiple Sclerosis Journal, the research team reviewed data collected over a 22-year period to evaluate the outcomes of more than 35,000 people with MS across four Canadian provinces. In addition, they looked at prescription records to track the use of DMDs for MS, including the type of drug.
Dr. Ng stressed the value of looking at such a large pool of data. “Few regions across the world have access to such comprehensive and population-based health data which can be used to study the benefits and risks of MS drugs in everyday, real-world clinical practice,” Dr. Ng noted.
Although using DMDs did not affect the number of doctor visits that people with MS made, it did reduce hospitalizations. In fact, people with MS on DMDs experienced a 24 percent lower hospitalization rate than people with MS who were not on DMDs, the study found.
Oral or infusion-based DMDs were associated with a 29 percent decrease in hospital stays. However, this number depended on the type of drug. For example, teriflunomide (sold as Aubagio) alone decreased hospitalizations by 18 percent. Another drug, fingolimod (sold as Gilenya), decreased hospitalizations by 44 percent.
The team hypothesized that DMDs may have reduced hospital stays because of their effectiveness in reducing the severity and number of relapses.