Efficacy and safety of mitoxantrone, as an initial therapy, in multiple sclerosis: experience in an Indian tertiary care setting

B S Singhal, Sheth Geeta, Shilpa G Hundalani, Suresh Menon
Neurology India 2009, 57 (4): 418-23

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Mitoxantrone is an approved disease modifying agent for treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). The aim of the study was to assess its efficacy and safety in Indian MS patients.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 23 patients with clinically definite MS (Poser criteria) were enrolled in an open label study. Of which, 21 satisfied the McDonald's criteria for MS and two satisfied the diagnostic criteria of neuromyelitis optica (NMO). The numbers of relapses and expanded disability status scale (EDSS) score were used as primary and secondary outcome measures. The patients were monitored for the adverse effects.

RESULTS: In 17 (15 MS and two NMO) patients who completed one year of therapy, there was significant difference in the mean annual relapse rates [before 0.879+/-0.58; on mitoxantrone 0.091+/-0.17, (P=0.003)]. Of the 17 patients, ten (MS 9 and NMO 1) completed therapy for two years. Annual relapse rates [before (1.024+/-0.59), on therapy (0.155+/-0.21), (P=0.0054)] and EDSS score [before start of therapy 5.3, at the end of therapy 2.4, (P=0.001)] showed significant benefit in the ten patients who completed two years therapy. This benefit persisted during the mean follow-up period of two and a half years after completion of therapy. The adverse events noted in the entire cohort were leucopenia in four patients and asymptomatic reversible decrease in cardiac ejection fraction in one patient. Leucopenia was severe in two patients requiring discontinuation of the therapy and mitoxantrone was also discontinued in the patient with cardiotoxicity.

CONCLUSIONS: Mitoxantrone, as an initial therapy, decreases clinical exacerbations and disability progression, and has a reasonable safety profile in Indian patients with MS and NMO.

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