MS patients often ask me when they can safely discontinue their disease-modifying treatment. This is mainly prompted by the fact that they have been stable for years. Very few studies are available to help with this decision. Now a new study identified 182 patients who were 40 or older and had been stable without increased disability or relapses for at least 5 years. These patients stopped their medications for various reasons, including lack of improvement, perceived disease progression, side effects, inconvenience.

Over the next 4 years, 1 in 4 patients had a relapse, about 1 in 3 had increased disability, and 1 in 10 had both a relapse and worsening disability.

Forty percent of these patients restarted their medication, and those who did had a 60% decrease in the rate of disability progression compared with those who did not.

This study, by Ilya Kister, MD, was presented at the 67th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.

Jack Florin, MD

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