Rebound of clinical disease activity after fingolimod discontinuation? A nationwide cohort study of patients in Denmark

Objective

We investigated whether clinical rebound occurred after fingolimod discontinuation in a complete population of patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) in Denmark. We further identified clinical and demographical factors associated with disease reactivation after fingolimod discontinuation.

Methods

The population comprised 992 RRMS patients treated with fingolimod for 6 months or more. We estimated annualised relapse rates (ARR) before, during and after treatment. We estimated overall ARRs and ARRs stratified by disease activity before discontinuation. We calculated the proportion of patients with a higher clinical disease activity after discontinuation than before treatment start. Finally, we analysed the association between variables at discontinuation and time to first relapse after discontinuation.

Results

The ARR 3 months after discontinuation (ARR=0.56; 95% CI=0.47 to 0.66) was statistically significantly lower (p<0.01) than the ARR 1 year before treatment (ARR=0.74; 95% CI=0.69 to 0.80). Results were similar when repeating analyses in patients with and without disease activity before discontinuation. In total, 124 patients (12.5%) had clinical rebound. Of those, 36 had no disease breakthrough before discontinuation (3.6% of total population). On treatment disease activity (HR=1.98, p<0.01), lower age (HR=0.98, p=0.01) and female sex (HR=1.68, p=0.02) were associated with a higher relapse risk after discontinuation.

Conclusions

Based on average ARR levels, there was no evidence of clinical rebound after fingolimod discontinuation. In total, 12.5% of patients had clinical rebound. Only 3.6%, however, had clinical rebound without disease activity before discontinuation. Disease activity before discontinuation, female sex and younger age were statistically significantly associated with a higher relapse risk after discontinuation.