UAB scientists find common MS drugs taken together don’t reduce relapse risk

UAB was one of the largest recruiting centers for the CombiRx study.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) was one of the largest recruiting centers for the CombiRx study, which has found that interferon?-1a (IFN) and glatiramer acetate (GA), two of the most commonly prescribed drugs for multiple sclerosis (MS), provide no additional clinical benefit when taken together.

A group of researchers in the UAB School of Public Health coordinated UAB’s contributions to the report, published in the Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society. The research team enrolled 1,008 participants from 68 sites in this double-blind, randomized, controlled phase III trial. Participants received the combination drug or one of the drugs alone and then were followed for three years to assess if the combination therapy reduced MS relapse rates.

While the findings suggest that taking both INF and GA together was not superior to GA monotherapy in reducing relapse risk, the combination therapy does appear to reduce new lesion activity and total lesion volume.

This CombiRx study was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) — a part of the National Institutes of Health. Stacey Cofield, Ph.D., associate professor of biostatistics, Gary Cutter, Ph.D., professor of biostatistics, and Amber Salter, statistician, were all authors on the paper.