book9Scientists are questioning the effectiveness of multiple sclerosis (MS) drugs such as beta interferon.

Interferons have been used widely for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, a neurological disease, for almost a decade.


  • their long-term effectiveness has not been confirmed
  • any beneficial effects might be outweighed by their side effects and high costs

In an analysis of trials conducted so far on the use of interferon in patients with the relapsing-remitting form of MS, interferon had a modest protective effect during the first year of treatment. However, results could not be determined for the second year due to trial weaknesses, including

  • high dropout rates
  • little to no follow-up of patients
  • differences in reporting of methods

Side effects were greater among patients taking interferon than those taking a placebo. Flu-like symptoms were common and the occurrence of leucopenia (an abnormal lowering of the white blood cell count), lymphocytopenia (an abnormally small number of lymphocytes in the circulating blood), thrombocytopenia (an abnormally small number of platelets in the blood), and raised liver enzymes in blood was higher than controls.

Scientists conclude that while interferon may have a modest effect during the first year of treatment, its effectiveness beyond one year is not known. Despite this, patients are commonly treated with interferon for long periods. Scientists say that the drug’s effectiveness should be assessed.

The Compounder concludes;

  • Interferon costs too much
  • It might work for only a short time
  • There are many possible, life threatening side effects
  • Using interferon is a waste of time and money

The Lancet February 15, 2003;361(9357) 545-552