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Don't Delay MS Treatment

Brain Creates New Lesions When Drug Therapy Delayed

From the WebMD Archives

Oct. 25, 2002 -- For people with multiple sclerosis (MS), a delay in treatment allows the disease to worsen.

A new study looks at treatment for relapsing-remitting MS, a form of the neurological disorder that involves acute attacks followed by recovery periods.

Those patients who didn't start drug therapy immediately -- who waited nine months after diagnosis -- accumulated new lesions in their brains, writes researcher Jerry S. Wolinsky, MD, director of the MS Research Group at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston.

His study appears in this month's edition of Neurology.

In his 18-month study, Wolinsky randomly assigned 224 MS patients to receive either the drug Copaxone or a placebo soon after diagnosis for the following nine months. Then all patients were given the active drug for the next nine months.

Teva Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Copaxone, supported this work.

"Over the entire 18 months of the study there were 35% fewer enhancing lesions among the patients who started drug therapy early," he says in a news release.

His study also finds that the group of patients receiving drug therapy continuously had 23% fewer relapses compared with the group who started active treatment nine months later. -->