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Paper of the day - Early interferon 'prevents development of disability'

Early treatment of multiple sclerosis with interferon prevents the development of confirmed disability, the follow up results of a randomised controlled trial suggest.

Three years after initial randomisation to interferon or placebo, early treatment with interferon, given to patients with a clinical event suggestive of the first stages of MS, was found to reduce the risk of clinically definite multiple sclerosis by 41% compared with initial placebo and then delayed treatment.

In the follow up analysis of the BENEFIT study 392 patients were followed up for three years, and 99 (37%) of the patients who received early interferon developed MS compared to 85 (51%) of those who did not receive interferon until later (when they developed MS, or at the end of the two-year trial). The absolute risk reduction for development of MS was 14%.

Over the three years of follow up, 42 (16%) of the patients in the early treatment group and 40 (24%) in the delayed treatment group had confirmed progression of disability, a significant risk reduction of 40% (absolute risk reduction 8%).

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