Super-Early MS Treatment Best
Permanent Disability Delayed by Betaseron After First MS-Like Event
Rx: Super-Early MS Treatment continued...
Betaseron is given to patients every other day via injection under the skin.
The side effects are flu-like symptoms, which tend to subside after a patient
becomes accustomed to the drug.
Rebif is another beta-interferon given by subcutaneous injection. Avonex is
a form of beta-interferon given by once-weekly muscle injections. Fox says he
thinks these treatments should work as well as Betaseron, but this has yet to
be demonstrated in clinical trials.
While the new findings are good news for people who get MS in the future,
they are sobering news for patients whose treatment started later in the course
of their disease.
"The damage continues to fester two to three years later despite the
fact that patients are on beta-interferon," Freedman says. Even the delayed
treatment is effective -- but you don't regain what you lost."
Late Treatment Still Effective
Don't tell Amelia Davis that late treatment doesn't help. Davis, now 38, was
diagnosed with remitting/relapsing MS two months before her 30th birthday,
after she woke to find the left side of her body had gone numb from head to
It was not an early diagnosis.
"In my 20s, I went completely blind in my left eye," Davis tells
WebMD. "That lasted four weeks, and then my sight came back. I was in
college, pulling all-nighters, so I thought it was just the stress and the eye
Four years later, the same thing happened again. Again she wrote it off to
working too hard. A few years later, she lost the feeling in both hands for
awhile. But she never sought help until half her body went numb.
At the University of California, San Francisco, doctors quickly diagnosed
Davis's MS and put her on Betaseron. In the eight years since, she's never had
another MS attack.
"Whatever damage was done to me is irreversible," Davis
acknowledges. "The great news is, on the outside I am not disabled looking.
Because I have been on this drug for so long and am still in remission, I think
I am going to stay in this remission stage for the rest of my life."
Davis has advice for other people with MS.
"If you get on aggressive drug therapy early, it is really proven to
slow the disease down. It can stop a major MS episode from happening, where the
body cannot repair itself," she says.
Davis is now a successful photographer. In 2004, she published her second
book, My Story: A Photographic Essay on Life with Multiple Sclerosis.
Davis also serves as president of MSFriends, a 24-hour multiple sclerosis
hotline that can be reached at (866) MSFRIENDS. Betaseron maker Bayer is the
main sponsor of MSFriends.