Quantitative risk-benefit analysis of natalizumab

J. P. Thompson, K. Noyes, E. R. Dorsey, S. R. Schwid, R. G. Holloway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Objective:: To model the long-term risks and benefits of natalizumab in individuals with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS). Methods:: We created a Markov model to evaluate treatment effects on reducing relapses and slowing disease progression using published natural history data and clinical trial results. Health changes, measured in quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), were based on patient health preferences. Patient cohorts treated with no disease-modifying treatment, natalizumab, subcutaneous interferon β-1a, and a theoretical "perfect" MS treatment were modeled. Sensitivity analysis was used to explore model uncertainty, including varying risks of developing progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). Results:: Treatment with natalizumab resulted in 9.50 QALYs over a 20-year time horizon, a gain of 0.80 QALYs over the untreated cohort and 0.38 QALYs over interferon β-1a. The health loss due to PML was small (-0.06 QALYs). To offset natalizumab's incremental health gain over interferon β-1a, the risk had to increase from 1 to 7.6 PML per 1,000 patients treated over 17.9 months. The "perfect" MS treatment accumulated 10.59 QALYs over the 20-year time horizon, 1.89 QALYs above the untreated cohort. Interferon β-1a resulted in greater QALY gains compared with natalizumab if natalizumab's relative relapse reduction was reduced from 68% to 35% or if interferon β-1a's relative reduction was increased from 32% to 65%. Conclusions:: A more than sevenfold increase in actual risk of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy was required to decrease natalizumab's health gain below that of interferon β-1a, and there remains considerable room for additional gains in health (>50%) beyond those already achieved with current therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-364
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 29 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantitative risk-benefit analysis of natalizumab'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this