Background: A recombinant form of interferon beta-1b (Betaseron) was given Food and Drug Administration approval for use in the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis in 1993 based on a documented reduction in exacerbation rate. However, its effect on disease progression is less clear. It costs $11,000 per year and has documented adverse effects such as fatigue, feverlike symptoms, and depression.
Objectives: To evaluate a recombinant form of interferon beta-1b in the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis and to discuss treatment trade-offs and comprehensive quality-of-life (QOL) outcomes.
Methods: We present a randomized evaluation of treatment with a recombinant form of interferon beta-1b in 79 patients with multiple sclerosis who participated in a random allocation lottery and were followed up for 12 months, during which data on QOL and clinical outcomes were collected. The data were analyzed using the Extended Quality-Adjusted Time Without Symptoms and Toxicity (Q-TWiST) method, which evaluates treatment trade-offs by incorporating several QOL domains and patient preferences regarding these domains.
Results: Over the 12 months of follow-up, the case patients reported 10.6 months of quality-adjusted time, while the control patients reported 10.4 months of quality-adjusted time (P = .50).
Conclusions: Thus, the first year of treatment with interferon beta-1b did not significantly improve or detract from QOL. Results are discussed in terms of acceptable trade-offs depending on the nature of therapy. Future observational and clinical studies should incorporate measures of patient preference.