Real-world adherence to, and persistence with, once- and twice-daily oral disease-modifying drugs in patients with multiple sclerosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis

BMC Neurol. 2020 Jul 14;20(1):281. doi: 10.1186/s12883-020-01830-0.


Background: Nonadherence to disease-modifying drugs (DMDs) for multiple sclerosis (MS) is associated with poorer clinical outcomes, including higher rates of relapse and disease progression, and higher medical resource use. A systematic review and quantification of adherence and persistence with oral DMDs would help clarify the extent of nonadherence and nonpersistence in patients with MS to help prescribers make informed treatment plans and optimize patient care. The objectives were to: 1) conduct a systematic literature review to assess the availability and variability of oral DMD adherence and/or persistence rates across 'real-world' data sources; and 2) conduct meta-analyses of the rates of adherence and persistence for once- and twice-daily oral DMDs in patients with MS using real-world data.

Methods: A systematic review of studies published between January 2010 and April 2018 in the PubMed database was performed. Only studies assessing once- and twice-daily oral DMDs were available for inclusion in the analysis. Study quality was evaluated using a modified version of the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale, a tool for assessing quality of observational studies. The random effects model evaluated pooled summary estimates of nonadherence.

Results: From 510 abstracts, 31 studies comprising 16,398 patients with MS treated with daily oral DMDs were included. Overall 1-year mean medication possession ratio (MPR; n = 4 studies) was 83.3% (95% confidence interval [CI] 74.5-92.1%) and proportion of days covered (PDC; n = 4 studies) was 76.5% (95% CI 72.0-81.1%). Pooled 1-year MPR ≥80% adherence (n = 6) was 78.5% (95% CI 63.5-88.5%) and PDC ≥80% (n = 5 studies) was 71.8% (95% CI 59.1-81.9%). Pooled 1-year discontinuation (n = 20) was 25.4% (95% CI 21.6-29.7%).

Conclusions: Approximately one in five patients with MS do not adhere to, and one in four discontinue, daily oral DMDs before 1 year. Opportunities to improve adherence and ultimately patient outcomes, such as patient education, medication support/reminders, simplified dosing regimens, and reducing administration or monitoring requirements, remain. Implementation of efforts to improve adherence are essential to improving care of patients with MS.

Keywords: Adherence; Dimethyl fumarate; Discontinuation; Fingolimod; Meta-analysis; Persistence; Real-world; Teriflunomide.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Humans
  • Medication Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / drug therapy*