CNS DRUGS, vol.35, no.10, pp.1097-1106, 2021 (SCI-Expanded)
Background The multiple sclerosis (MS) landscape has changed over the past two decades across the world and in the Middle East. The Middle East is an ethnically diverse region located between 12 degrees and 42 degrees of latitude and 35 degrees and 54 degrees of longitude and varying altitudes. The magnitude of the shifts observed in the epidemiology and management of MS differ in each region and from country to country. Objectives The aim of this study was to provide a clinicodemographic overview of the cohorts of patients contributed to MSBase, a large international MS registry, in the Middle East and describe disease-modifying treatment (DMT) utilization in the different countries within the region. Understanding the differences between these cohorts is integral to interpretation of the studies conducted using registry data and provides insight into clinical practice in these cohorts. Methods The MSBase registry was searched for patients with MS or clinically isolated syndrome from the Middle Eastern countries with data captured between 2009 and 2018. In 2-year epochs, and with special focus on the most recent epoch (2017-2018), we explored the demographic, clinical characteristics and treatment exposures of the studied cohorts and reported the results using standard descriptive statistics. Results Over the 10-year study period, 13,356 patients from 17 centers in 8 Middle Eastern countries fulfilled the inclusion criteria. The represented countries were Egypt, Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Overall, the represented cohort was young (median 36 years, quartiles 29-45) and captured relatively early after the onset of MS (median disease duration < 10 years, quartiles 3-12). The relapsing-remitting phenotype was the most prevalent phenotype in all countries (73-97%) and the highest proportion of progressive MS was reported in Saudi Arabia (12%). Median Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) ranged from 0 to 3, depicting a mildly disabled cohort, with the exception of Saudi Arabia where the median EDSS was 4 (quartiles 1.5-6.5). The median relapse frequency was highest in Lebanon (median 1.03, 95% CI 0.94-1.16) followed by Egypt (median 1.02, 95% CI 0.89-1.24) and lowest in Saudi Arabia (median 0.70, 95% CI 0.58-0.95) and Kuwait (median 0.75, 95% CI 0.71-0.80). The treatment landscape greatly varied between different countries. Platform injectable therapies were mostly utilized in Egypt, Iran and Turkey (86%, 79% and 53%, respectively), while oral therapies and monoclonal antibodies were more commonly used in Kuwait, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates (87.2%, 67.3% and 58.7%, respectively). Conclusion Patients in the Middle East enrolled in a large multinational registry are representative of the general MS population. The spectrum of therapies used in the individual countries, however, is highly variable. Further studies that include rural and non-academic practices are needed to enhance our understanding of the MS cohorts in the Middle East.