Photo: Stethoscope

New research shows DMTs can extend life expectancy for people with MS

Beta interferon drugs are one of the most commonly prescribed disease modifying therapies (DMTs) for people with MS.

We know they can slow disability progression and reduce the number of relapses people experience. Now a long-term study has shown they can improve survival rates too.

People with MS taking DMTs can expect to live longer

Researchers from the University of British Colombia in Canada followed almost 6000 people with relapsing MS.

They found that people who had taken beta interferons for more than 6 months had a 32% lower mortality risk, compared to those who hadn't taken beta interferons. For people who had taken beta interferons for over 3 years it was even lower.

Increased survival was even seen in people who had started taking beta interferons 5 or more years after they were diagnosed.  

Do all DMTs improve life expectancy?

We know the average life expectancy for people living with MS is around 5-10 years lower than average.

This study tells us that the beta interferons increase life expectancy for people with MS. But it’s still too early to tell what the long-term benefits of the newer, more effective, DMTs could be.

We need improved access to effective treatments in the UK

This is more evidence of the positive impact DMTs have on the lives of people living with MS. But many people are currently not accessing treatments that could help them.

Our research has shown that potentially thousands of people with relapsing forms of MS haven’t seen an MS nurse or neurologist in the last year or more. And among this group, just 12% are taking a DMT, which could help reduce their relapses, slow progression, and even extend their life.

We’re campaigning to make sure that people with MS have access to effective treatments that work for them. Join our campaign.

Read the research paper on the journal website