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Impact of COVID-19 on multiple sclerosis care and management: Results from the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis survey.

Mult Scler. 2021 Mar 25:13524585211005339. doi: 10.1177/13524585211005339. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33764197.

Authors/Editors: Portaccio E, Fonderico M, Hemmer B, Derfuss T, Stankoff B, Selmaj K, Tintorè M, Amato MP.
Publication Date: 2021

Abstract

Background: The spread of Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) poses unique challenges in the management of people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS).

Objectives: To collect data about the impact of COVID-19 emergency on access to care for PwMS and on MS treatment practices.

Methods: Between March and July 2020, the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) promoted an online survey covering patient access to care, management of relapses and visits, disease-modifying therapy (DMT) and experience with COVID-19.

Results: Three-hundred and sixty neurologists from 52 countries (68% from Europe) completed the survey. 98% reported COVID-19-related restrictions. Telemedicine was adopted to overcome the limited access to care and was newly activated (73%) or widely implemented (17%). 70% reported changes in DMT management. Interferons and glatiramer were considered safe. Dimethyl fumarate, teriflunomide and fingolimod were considered safe except for patients developing lymphopenia. No modifications were considered for natalizumab in 64%, cladribine in 24%, anti-CD20 in 22% and alemtuzumab in 17%; 18% (for alemtuzumab and cladribine) and 43% (for anti-CD20) considered postponing treatment.

Conclusion: The ECTRIMS survey highlighted the challenges in keeping standards of care in clinical practice. Telemedicine clearly needs to be implemented. Gathering data on DMT safety will remain crucial to inform treatment decisions.

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