Yes! The so-called ABC drugs (Avonex, Betaseron, and Copaxone) have been proven to reduce the risk of attacks in relapsing forms of MS. The original inter-feron-beta-1b (Betaseron) studies reported in 1993
(leading to approval later that year) were not designed to show a reduction in the risk of disability. The subsequent interferon-beta-1a (Avonex and Rebif) studies were designed to detect the impact of treatment on preventing "sustained" disability, as well as the impact on relapse rates. More recently, the benefit of Betaseron in reducing the risk of progression in secondary progressive disease was established. This was a more difficult task and was not found in studies of other interferon-beta products. Interestingly, this reduction in the risk of progression in the Betaseron studies was only evident in patients who continued to relapse as well as exhibit progression of their illness.
Using drugs does make a difference in MS. Studies have proven that the interferon-beta products (Avonex, Betaseron, and Rebif) approved for the use in MS have a benefit not only in reducing the risk of attacks but also the risk of "sustained" disability (progression), although it is not realized in everybody taking these drugs.
The pivotal studies of Copaxone did not show an impact on prevention of disability. A 6-year longitudinal follow-up study of a portion of the original study participants has been interpreted to show an impressive prevention of disability in about two thirds of those followed. There is no test than can predict therapeutic success; however, repeated examinations by experienced neurologists and MRI scans can provide information about how an individual patient is responding to treatment. Generally, apart from examinations and MRI scans, if you feel well, you probably are okay.
Was this article helpful?