Are there any known cases of elderly (85-90 year old) MS patients discontinuing use of Avonex? My mother is considering this, she has been taking the injections for about 10 years. She gives as her reasons: we do not know for sure if they are effective, it is a hassle to get to the weekly appointment, etc. I do think she has not gotten much worse, but she is 89 so she is slowing down! I have spoken to her doctor, and though she does not recommend discontinuing, she would not argue with my mom!
It is hard to provide personalized advice without knowing the details of your mother’s case, so let me provide some thoughts to help you and your mother consider your question.
- At the age of 85 to 90 we would expect an MS patient to be functioning at a reasonable level for her age (a relatively benign longstanding form of MS) or severely disabled. A person falling into either category would not be expected to benefit from Avonex or any disease modifying therapy
- Relapses are exceedingly rare in the elderly with MS. This means there is little reason to be on disease modifying therapy if the purpose is to prevent relapses
- There is no evidence that disease modifying therapy will alter disease progression in this age group
It is far more important for your mom to remain physically and mentally as activate as possible and continue socialization with friends and family. Instead of a weekly visit for an Avonex shot she might consider a weekly visit with friends for a mutually enjoyable and stimulating activity. Again, I do not know the details of this case, so please discuss the points above with her physician.
Best of luck to her.
Revere Kinkel MD
Director of the UCSD Multiple Sclerosis Program