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Abstract

Objective

To determine whether glatiramer acetate (GA) slows accumulation of disability in primary progressive multiple sclerosis.

Methods

A total of 943 patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis were randomized to GA or placebo (PBO) in this 3-year, double-blind trial. The primary end point was an intention-to-treat analysis of time to 1- (entry expanded disability status scale, 3.0–5.0) or 0.5-point expanded disability status scale change (entry expanded disability status scale, 5.5–6.5) sustained for 3 months. The trial was stopped after an interim analysis by an independent data safety monitoring board indicated no discernible treatment effect on the primary outcome. Intention-to-treat analyses of disability and magnetic resonance imaging end points were performed.

Results

There was a nonsignificant delay in time to sustained accumulated disability in GA- versus PBO-treated patients (hazard ratio, 0.87 [95% confidence interval, 0.71–1.07]; p = 0.1753), with significant decreases in enhancing lesions in year 1 and smaller increases in T2 lesion volumes in years 2 and 3 versus PBO. Post hoc analysis showed that survival curves for GA-treated male patients diverged early from PBO-treated male subjects (hazard ratio, 0.71 [95% confidence interval, 0.53–0.95]; p = 0.0193).

Interpretation

The trial failed to demonstrate a treatment effect of GA on primary progressive multiple sclerosis. Both the unanticipated low event rate and premature discontinuation of study medication decreased the power to detect a treatment effect. Post hoc analysis suggests GA may have slowed clinical progression in male patients who showed more rapid progression when untreated. Ann Neurol 2007;61:14–24