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April 2008 Off the Wire . . .




New Data Show Treatment Of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) With AVONEX® (interferon Beta-1a) Enhances Quality Of Life

Main Category: Multiple Sclerosis
Article Date: 17 Apr 2008 - 1:00 PDT
Results from a one-year prospective, observational study conducted to determine the impact of beginning treatment with AVONEX on MS patients' overall quality of life (QoL) were announced today. The data showed that patients receiving treatment with AVONEX experienced statistically significant improvements in QoL, as measured by the EuroQol questionnaire (EQ-5D), compared to baseline. In addition, the study demonstrated the negative impact of disability progression (as measured by the expanded disability status scale (EDSS)) on employment status and QoL. These data were presented today as a poster presentation at the 60th American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

Led by Dr. Norman Putzki at the University of Duisburg-Essen, in Essen, Germany, and Professor Hans-Peter Hartung at Heinrich-Heine University in Dusseldorf, Germany, the prospective, observational, open label, multicenter study, analyzed 1,157 patients with RRMS, who had received no immunomodulatory therapy within the preceding 12 months before beginning the study. Upon commencement of the study, patients received 30 mcg AVONEX once-weekly and were examined at five data-points over a period of 12 months (at study initiation, after three, six, nine and 12 months). Apart from relapse rate and EDSS scores, QoL was measured by means of EQ-5D, as well as the participation in training for injection, the influence of injection training on the therapeutic behavior and further parameters.

The study demonstrates the importance of treatment with AVONEX in patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), showing the ability to slow disability progression, reduce relapses, and improve QoL. The study results also indicated that:

Over 90 percent of patients felt an improvement or noticed no reduction in their general health while on AVONEX.
Mean EDSS score remained practically unchanged over the 12-month treatment period (2.06 at baseline and 2.14 at the 12-month visit; p=0.233).
Injection training and care through a nurse service was found to improve handling of side effects in nearly 60 percent of patients.

"These data reinforce that AVONEX provides patients with the ability to delay disability progression and shows that effective treatment with AVONEX may enhance QoL," said Dr. Norman Putzki, primary study author, Department of Neurology, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany.

"As a company, we are committed to providing efficacious treatment options such as AVONEX in an effort to help improve the quality of life of MS patients," said Thorsten Eickenhorst, MD, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Biogen Idec.

AVONEX is the number one prescribed treatment for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) worldwide, and is the only once-a-week MS therapy that is proven after the first attack. AVONEX is also proven to slow the progression of physical disability (as shown by 37 percent reduction over two years) and reduce the number of relapses. Nearly nine out of 10 patients remained fully functional after five years. AVONEX has been proven effective in clinical trials for up to three years.

This observational study was supported by Biogen Idec.


AVONEX is the number one most prescribed treatment for relapsing forms of MS worldwide, with more than 130,000 patients on therapy. It was launched in the U.S. in 1996 and later in Europe for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS to slow the progression of disability and reduce relapses. AVONEX has been proven effective in clinical trials for up to three years. AVONEX is marketed internationally in more than 90 countries. AVONEX was the first treatment approved for patients who have their first clinical MS attack and have a brain MRI scan consistent with MS; this use was approved in Europe in 2002 and in the U.S. in 2003.

The most common side effects associated with AVONEX multiple sclerosis treatment are flu-like symptoms, including myalgia, fever, fatigue, headache, chills, nausea, vomiting, pain and asthenia.

AVONEX should be used with caution in patients with depression or other mood disorders and in patients with seizure disorders. AVONEX should not be used by pregnant women. Patients with cardiac disease should be closely monitored. Patients should also be monitored for signs of hepatic injury. Routine periodic blood chemistry and hematology tests are recommended during treatment with AVONEX. Rare cases of anaphylaxis have been reported. Please see complete prescribing information available at

View drug information on Avonex.

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