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131509 - The effect of disease modifying therapies on disability progression.pdf (1.32 MB)

The effect of disease modifying therapies on disability progression in multiple sclerosis: a systematic overview of meta-analyses

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 02:00 authored by Susan ClaflinSusan Claflin, Broadley, S, Bruce TaylorBruce Taylor
Background: Disease modifying therapy (DMT) efficacy trials make an essential contribution to the development of evidence-based clinical treatments and practices for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Meta-analysis is a critical part of this process and provides a powerful tool to assess the effects of DMT on MS progression. However, although there have been several meta-analyses on the effect of DMT on MS disease progression, they often do not reach the same conclusions.

Objective: Our aim was to better understand and contextualize the results of meta-analyses evaluating DMT, identify differences in methodology that might explain their differing conclusions, and highlight areas for future research that will improve our ability to develop clinical recommendations.

Methods: We conducted an overview of systematic reviews with meta-analyses assessing the efficacy of DMT on disability progression in people with MS in PubMed (Medline) and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Results: We included 22 meta-analyses in this overview: eight general (on >3 DMT), 11 specific (on ≤3 DMT), 2 that evaluated subsets, and 1 that evaluated long-term effects. We found that there is good evidence that DMT improve short-term (≤2-3 years) disability progression outcomes relative to placebo in people with relapsing-remitting MS. However, results varied substantially between meta-analyses, and there is little evidence of their efficacy in other populations or over longer periods. The relative effects of individual DMT also remain unclear. The variance in results between meta-analyses may be related to the substantial differences in inclusion criteria, which was reflected in the limited overlap in included studies, as well as the year of meta-analysis publication. Of the 123 total unique studies included in the general meta-analyses, 77 (62.6%) were included in only one meta-analysis. This incongruence was also evident in the included DMT. Six of the 16 (37.5%) DMT evaluated in the general meta-analyses were only included in one meta-analysis.

Conclusions: Translating DMT efficacy studies into evidence-based clinical practice requires greater methodological consistency in meta-analyses, more data on the relative effects of DMT through head-to-head clinical trials, and better reporting of adverse events.


Publication title

Frontiers in Neurology



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Menzies Institute for Medical Research


Frontiers Research Foundation

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Rights statement

Copyright 2019 Claflin, Broadley and Taylor. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Clinical health not elsewhere classified