Plegridy: new option for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis

Plegridy (peginterferon beta-1a) is the first pegylated interferon to be launched for the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS).

Patients may self-administer Plegridy following suitable training.
Patients may self-administer Plegridy following suitable training.

Interferons are classed as immunomodulators although their exact mechanism of action in MS is unknown. Pegylation (attachment of a molecule to polyethylene glycol) prolongs the circulation time in the body, allowing less frequent dosing.

Fortnightly dosing

Plegridy is administed by subcutaneous injection every 2 weeks. To reduce the incidence and severity of adverse events, it is recommended that the dose be titrated up to the recommended level. Patients should initiate treatment with a dose of 63 microgram, followed by 94 microgram at week 2, then the full dose of 125 microgram at week 4 and every 2 weeks thereafter. 

Prophylactic and concurrent use of anti-inflammatory, analgesic and/or antipyretic treatments can be considered to minimise flu-like symptoms associated with interferon treatment.

Reduced relapse rate

Peginterferon beta-1a was shown to reduce the rate of relapse in a double-blind, randomised trial (ADVANCE) in 1,516 patients with relapsing-remitting MS.

After 48 weeks of treatment with peginterferon beta-1a 125 microgram every 2 or 4 weeks, patients in the 2-weekly dosing group showed significantly fewer relapses than those given placebo, with an annualized relapse rate (primary endpoint) of 0.256 (95% CI 0.206-0.318) compared with 0.397 (95% CI 0.328-0.481; p=0.0007). This difference reflected a 36% reduction in annualized relapse rate.

The annualized relapse rate in the 4-weekly dosing group did not differ significantly from that in the placebo group (0.288, 95% CI 0.234-0.355, p=0.0114).

Post hoc analysis showed that the risk of sustained disability at 24 weeks was significantly reduced by 54% (p=0.0069) with 2-weekly dosing of peginterferon beta-1a.

The efficacy of peginterferon beta-1a was maintained over the second year of treatment. 

Safety profile

The most commonly reported adverse effects of peginterferon beta-1a were injection site reactions, flu-like illness, pyrexia, headache, myalgia, chills and arthralgia.

View Plegridy drug record

Further information: Biogen

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