Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada

Funded Research

Impact of Disease-Modifying Therapy on Relapse Rates and Health Care Resource Utilization

Year Awarded: 2015

Term: 4 years

Funding Amount: $69,014

Affiliation(s): University of Manitoba

Province(s): Manitoba

Researcher(s): Dr. James J. Marriott

Impact Goal(s): Advance Treatment and Care


  • The clinical trials of some multiple sclerosis (MS) drugs (such as the interferons or Copaxone) only lasted 2-3 years.
  • It is unknown how well these drugs work for longer periods of time and the “real-world” benefits of MS drugs.
  • The research team will:
    • Compare the frequency of doctor’s visits, hospitalizations, and relapses on individuals who take older drugs (such as interferons or Copaxone) compared to drugs that were recently approved.

Project Description:

To maximize a drug’s potential, we need not only to understand its immediate effect but also its effect in the long-term. Dr. James Marriott and his team will study the long-term benefits of various MS drugs, such as interferons and glatiramer acetate (Copaxone). For each drug, they will address a number of questions: how often does a person with MS visit their doctor while on the drug? Is the person hospitalized more or less frequently as a consequence of taking the drug? And, how well does the drug protect against relapses long-term? The research team is developing computer programs that will allow them to input all data from administrative sources to quickly assesses how often people on an MS drug had a relapse or used health care system in any way compared to people not on an MS drug. Thus far, the research team has discovered that people on MS drugs need to access the system more (as expected if they need to be monitored while on the drug) but have fewer hospitalizations than those not on drug treatments. Ongoing work is refining the final analysis to see if relapse rates of persons with MS on or off drug therapies are different if switching between different classes or types of MS drugs.

Potential Impact: Help persons with MS and their doctors to make more informed decisions about current MS treatments.

Project Status: In Progress

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