Background: Glatiramer acetate (GA) and interferon-beta (INFb) are first-line disease modifying drugs for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS). Treatment with INFb is associated with a significant increase in health-related quality of life (HR-QoL) in the first 12 months. It is not known whether HR-QoL increases during treatment with GA.
Methods: 197 RRMS patients, 106 without and 91 with prior immunomodulation/immunosuppression, were studied for HR-QoL (Leeds Multiple Sclerosis-QoL [LMS-QoL] scale, score range 0 - 32), fatigue (Fatigue Impact Scale [FIS]) and depressed mood (Beck Depression Inventory-Short Form [BDI-SF]) at baseline and 6 and 12 months after start of GA treatment.
Results: At 6 and 12 months mean LMS-QoL scores were significantly increased in the treatment-naive patient group (p < 0.001), not in the pre-treated group. At month 12 43% of treatment-naïve patients had improved HR-QoL (increase LMS-QoL score 3 or more points) (p < 0.001). Likewise, mean FIS scores were decreased at months 6 and 12 in the treatment-naïve group (p < 0.01), not in the pre-treated group. In both groups mean BDI-SF scores did not change. No demographic or clinical baseline factor was predictive of HR-QoL increase. HR-QoL changes were zero to negative for patients who had discontinued GA before month 12 (28.4% of patients).
Conclusions: In RRMS patients without prior immunomodulation/immunosuppression treatment with GA was associated with an increase in HR-QoL in the first 6 months, that was sustained at 12 months. In 4 out of 10 patients HR-QoL improved. Increase in HR-QoL was associated with decrease in fatigue.