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Shifting from the treat-to-target to the early highly effective treatment approach in patients with multiple sclerosis - real-world evidence from Germany.

BACKGROUND: While evidence highlights the effectiveness of initiating disease-modifying therapy with a high-efficacy medication for multiple sclerosis (MS) patients with poor prognostic factors, it remains unclear whether this approach has been adopted by a broad range of MS providers in Germany yet.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the adoption of the early highly effective treatment (EHT) compared to the treat-to-target treatment approach with the option of escalating treatment efficacy over time in Germany based on real-world evidence data.

DESIGN: Patient-level pharmacy dispensing data from the Permea platform were analysed from 2020 to 2022.

METHODS: In total, 29,529 therapy beginners (>18 years) were included to analyse shifts in treatment approaches over time and switching behaviour. Medication classification adhered to the German Society of Neurology guidelines and designated fumarates, glatiramer acetate, teriflunomide and interferons as low-efficacy category 1 medications; cladribine and S1P-modulators as medium-efficacy category 2 medications; and alemtuzumab, natalizumab, ocrelizumab, ofatumumab and rituximab (off-label) as high-efficacy category 3 medications.

RESULTS: Our results show that 70.0% of patients redeemed their first prescription for category 1 medication, 16.3% for category 2 and 13.7% for category 3 medications. The proportion of prescriptions filled shifted from 2020 to 2022 with a decrease of 14.7% for category 1 drugs and an increase of 12.5% for category 3 drugs. 93.2% of patients stayed on their initially prescribed medication category. 3.2% of category 1 and 3.7% of category 2 therapy beginners escalated to category 3 medication. 3.4% of category 3 medication users de-escalated their treatment to category 1 or category 2.

CONCLUSION: While most individuals started their treatment according to the treat-to-target approach and remained on their initially prescribed medication category, there has been a steadily increasing shift towards the EHT approach since 2020. These insights demonstrate that, while not officially recommended by German guidelines, MS providers increasingly adopt the EHT approach.

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