Anti-interferon beta antibodies in MS care: A consensus

which reduce the frequency and severity of MS relapses or attacks, reduce brain lesion development and generally delay future disability. Few options for treating MS existed until these biologic therapies became available. However, some MS patients taking an interferon beta (Avonex, Betaseron or Rebif) develop neutralizing antibodies (NAbs), which limit or prevent the medication from having its full therapeutic effect. As treatment with biologics increases, physicians and patients need expert guidance regarding this issue.

In November 2003, a CMSC consensus statement on how biologics affect NAbs was published in Neurology. The consensus was the result of an extensive review of studies by over 33 immunologists and neurologists. The CMSC sought to answer the following questions:

  • What is currently known about anti-interferon beta antibodies and their effects on patients with MS treated with interferons?
  • Do all interferon betas result in comparable levels of NAbs?
  • What are the tests available to detect antibodies; how accurate are they; and what is the best method for their detection in clinical care?
  • What are the research priorities in advancing our knowledge of this field?

    Current and Future Strategies

    The CMSC recommends that a laboratory test for NAbs be performed routinely with other standardized tests at least one and two years after start of treatment. Additionally, the CMSC counsels patients and their doctors to consider NAbs when selecting a long-term treatment for MS. Based on prescribing information, NAbs have been detected at different levels among the available interferon betas:

  • 43% of Betaseron patients (Interferon Beta-1b)
  • 24% of Rebif patients (Interferon Beta-1a)
  • 5% of Avonex patients (Interferon Beta-1a)

    "Therefore, it is incumbent on both physicians and their patients to understand the potential effects of NAbs on the long-term treatmen

  • Contact: Cindy Gessell

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