Short- and long-term clinical outcomes of use of beta-interferon or glatiramer acetate for people with clinically isolated syndrome: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials and network meta-analysis Academic Article uri icon


  • Background

    Beta-interferon (IFN-β) and glatiramer acetate (GA) have been evaluated in people with clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) with the aim to delay a second clinical attack and a diagnosis of clinically definite multiple sclerosis (CDMS). We systematically reviewed trials evaluating the short- and long-term clinical effectiveness of these drugs in CIS.


    We searched multiple electronic databases. We selected randomised controlled studies (RCTs) conducted in CIS patients and where the interventions were IFN-β and GA. Main outcomes were time to CDMS, and discontinuation due to adverse events (AE). We compared interventions using random-effect network meta-analyses (NMA). We also reported outcomes from long-term open-label extension (OLE) studies.


    We identified five primary studies. Four had open-label extensions following double-blind periods comparing outcomes between early vs delayed DMT. Short-term clinical results (double-blind period) showed that all drugs delayed CDMS compared to placebo. Indirect comparisons did not suggest superiority of any one active drug over another. We could not undertake a NMA for discontinuation due to AE. Long-term clinical results (OLE studies) showed that the risk of developing CDMS was consistently reduced across studies after early DMT treatment compared to delayed DMT (HR = 0.64, 95% CI 0.55, 0.74). No data supported the benefit of DMTs in reducing the time to, and magnitude of, disability progression.


    Meta-analyses confirmed that IFN-β and GA delay time to CDMS compared to placebo. In the absence of evidence that early DMTs can reduce disability progression, future research is needed to better identify patients most likely to benefit from long-term DMTs.

publication date

  • 2018