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Intrathecally Administered Natural Human Fibroblast Interferon Reduces Exacerbations of Multiple Sclerosis:  Results of a Multicenter, Double-blinded Study

Lawrence Jacobs, MD; Andres M. Salazar, MD; Robert Herndon, MD; Peter A. Reese, JD; Arnold Freeman, MD; Ralph Jozefowicz, MD; Albert Cuetter, MD; Farhat Husain, MD; William A. Smith, MD; Roslyn Ekes; Judith A. O'Malley, PhD
Arch Neurol. 1987;44(6):589-595. doi:10.1001/archneur.1987.00520180013008.
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• A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, two-year multicenter study demonstrated that natural human fibroblast interferon (interferon beta) administered intrathecally (IT) is effective in reducing the exacerbations of exacerbating-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS). The mean reduction in exacerbation rate of 34 patients with MS who received interferon beta administered IT was significantly greater during the study than that of 35 control patients who received placebo. The prestudy exacerbation rates were comparable for both patients who received interferon beta and control patients, but the exacerbation rate of patients receiving interferon beta at the end of the study was significantly lower than that of the control patients. Interferon beta was administered by nine or ten lumbar punctures for the first six months of the study, and observations were continued for two years. In 95% of the recipients, interferon beta therapy was well tolerated, and the side effects experienced were clearly acceptable for the benefits achieved. Low doses of indomethacin dramatically reduced the toxicity of interferon beta therapy and played an important role in successful double blinding. This study confirms a preliminary report on 20 patients that initially suggested that interferon beta administered IT was of benefit in patients with MS. The number of treatments was fewer and the dosage of interferon beta administered was less in the present study than in the preliminary one. It is possible that even fewer treatments with lower doses of interferon beta administered might provide a similar degree of prophylaxis against exacerbations.

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