The combined EAN (European Academy of Neurology) and ECTRIMS (European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis) guidelines for the treatment of MS were launched at ECTRIMS 2016 this September. A mighty endeavor to bring some consistency in what is currently an unregulated environment, with individual variation between different countries.
To date the EAN has resisted trying to bring in some uniformity into the way MS is manged across Europe, but the mounting real life treatment evidence seems to have changed their minds?!
The EAN has joined forces with ECTRIMS to come up with for the first time ever, the MS treatment guidelines. Their recommendations are based on the strength of graded evidence that is out there for MS.
Here are their main topics they plan to cover:
1) Early treatment in CIS (clinically isolated syndrome; single event) patients
2) Treatment in patients with MS (both relapsing and progressive)
3) Monitoring treatment response
4) Stopping and switching treatment strategies
5) Treatment in special situations such as pregnancy
They gave the audience present at ECTRIMS 2016 at Excel London, a taster on some of their general recommendations:
- The entire spectrum of disease modifying drugs should only be prescribed in centres where there is an adequate infrastructure to provide:
- proper monitoring of patients
- comprehensive assessment
- detection of side effects and ability to promptly address them.
- Patients with CIS
- Consider interferon or glatiramer acetate for patients with CIS and an abnormal MRI who do not fulfill MS criteria.
- Monitoring treatment response in MS patients treated with DMDs
- Consider using MRI combined with clinical measures when evaluating disease evolution in patients treated with disease-modifying drugs.
- When monitoring response in patients treated with disease-modifying drugs, consider performing a standardised reference brain MRI, usually within six months of treatment onset and compare it with a further brain MRI performed typically 12 months after starting treatment. Adjust the timing of both MRIs, taking into account:
- The drug's mechanism of action (especially the speed of action)
- Disease activity
The EAN/ECTRIMS guidelines are expected to be published next year, but I predict that there would be lots of questions from reviewers and may even be delayed until the following year!
Having seen these early attempts from Europe, the rest of the World is probably relieved that their neuros also haven't got into their heads to create something similar in their respective countries.
Don't get me wrong, if you are brave enough to start, you will!
I suppose the key is in the phrasing, I wonder how many of you spotted "consider performing" in the consensus statements presented above!