Study Shows Early DMT for Multiple Sclerosis Associated With Income Benefit

November 9, 2020
Laura Joszt
Laura Joszt

Earlier treatment of multiple sclerosis with disease-modifying therapy reduced the chances of a sharp decrease in income, according to Swedish researchers.

Early treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) is associated with better physical outcomes. Now a Swedish study shows that early treatment may also be associated with better financial ones.

Andrius Kavaliunas of the Karolinska Institute and his colleagues divided 3,610 people with multiple sclerosis into two groups, those who started disease-modifying therapy (DMT) within two years of the onset of their disease (early treatment) and those who started DMT two years afterward (delayed treatment). They designed the study so a 95% decrease in annual earning was the main measure of financial outcome.

The results they reported in Multiple Sclerosis Journal — Experimental, Translational and Clinical showed that patients in the delayed treatment group were more likely to reach that unfavorable financial threshold than the patients in the early treatment group.

Their findings were similar when they looked at slightly smaller group of people with MS and when they were likely to receive “social benefits,” such as a disability pension. Those in the delayed treatment group were more likely to receive social benefits than those in the early treatment group. More specifically, delayed treatment increased the “risk” of receiving benefits by 42%.

Kavaliunas and his colleagues said that this study was to their knowledge the first to examine the association between early and late treatment and the income of MS patients, although they have previously reported findings on early treatment and disability pensions, so the territory is not entirely uncharted. There is also a body of research that has shown an association between MS and lower income and early retirement.

In this study, the drugs that counted as disease-modifying therapy were interferon beta, glatiramer acetate, Tysabri (natalizumab), Gilenya (fingolimod), Rituxan (rituximab), Aubagio (teriflunomide), Lemtrada (alemtuzumab), mitoxantrone, and (Tecfidera) dimethyl fumarate.

“In conclusion, we confirm the benefits of early treatment initiation in the socioeconomic context using the novel and unbiased outcome, also support the idea that it can serve as a precise outcome measure and can be used as a proxy parameter of disability,” Kavaliunas and his co-authors concluded.