Cladribine tablets added to IFN-β in active relapsing MS

ONWARD Study Group

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41 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of cladribine tablets in patients still experiencing active relapsing MS despite interferon (IFN)-β treatment. Methods A 96-week phase II study, randomizing patients treated with IFN-β to cladribine tablets 3.5 mg/kg/ IFN-β or placebo/IFN-β. Patients were to receive cladribine tablets 3.5 mg/kg/IFN-β or placebo/ IFN-β in a 2:1 ratio (n = 172) with safety and exploratory efficacy outcomes being assessed. Results: Adverse events (AEs) and serious AEs were similar across treatment groups, except lymphopenia. Fifty of 124 (40.3%) cladribine/IFN-β recipients vs 0% of placebo/IFN-β recipients reported lymphopenia as an AE, with grade 3/4 lymphopenia (laboratory lymphocyte count < 500 cells/mm3) experienced by 79/124 (63.7%) vs 1 (2.1%), respectively. Patients treated with cladribine tablets 3.5 mg/kg/IFN-β were 63% less likely to have a qualifying relapse than placebo/ IFN-β recipients, and cladribine tablets 3.5 mg/kg/IFN-β reduced most MRI measures of disease activity. Conclusions: In patients with active relapsing MS despite IFN-β treatment, cladribine tablets 3.5 mg/kg/ IFN-β reduced relapses and MRI lesion activity over 96 weeks compared with placebo/IFN-β but led to an increased incidence of lymphopenia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNeurology: Neuroimmunology and NeuroInflammation
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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