Topic Spotlight

Multiple Sclerosis

PCORI Answers Critical Questions

Evidence gaps can make it difficult to know which multiple sclerosis treatment will work best given a patient’s needs. PCORI funds studies that seek to help patients, clinicians and others answer various questions they might have about treatment options, such as:

Patient: I’m over 55 and my MS has been stable for years. Should I stay on my disease-modifying drug or consider a different treatment?

Clinician: In my rural community, would telerehabilitation be as effective as in-clinic rehabilitation? Would it provide a good option for patients without easy access to MS specialty centers?

Patient: Which of the available medications work best to treat my fatigue?

Study Results that Support Better-Informed Decisions

A close-up of pills in someone's hands. COVID-19 Enhancement Follows Outcomes of Patients with MS Taking Certain Medicines

Through a PCORI research funding enhancement, which the PCORI-funded COMBAT-MS study received in 2020 to quickly initiate new research related to COVID-19, the team comparing the safety and effectiveness of long-term medicines used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) used its enhancement to see whether patients taking these drugs were more likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19 than the public. As reported in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, patients with MS treated with the drug rituximab were at increased risk of hospitalization but not ventilatory support or death from COVID‐19 compared to the general population.


A close up photo of the hands of an unrecognizable person, possibly a nurse, doctor, or pharmacist, reviewing medications for a patient. With three bottles of medication sitting on a table. Comparing Three Medicines to Treat Fatigue in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis

Fatigue is one of the most common problems among patients living with multiple sclerosis (MS). Three drugs—amantadine, modafinil, and methylphenidate—are commonly prescribed for reducing fatigue in patients with MS, but conclusive evidence for their effectiveness is lacking. As published in Lancet Neurology, a PCORI-funded study led by Bardia Nourbakhsh, MD, at Johns Hopkins University found that these three drugs were no more effective in reducing fatigue in a group of nearly 170 patients with MS than a placebo pill.

Multiple Sclerosis Study Spotlights

Comparing Treatments That Patients Take for Many Years

This study is using information from a Swedish database of patients with MS and from patients in Southern California with MS to look at how effective and safe rituximab is relative to other medicines used to treat MS over a period of up to nine years.

People Involved in MS Research

Hear about several comparative clinical effectiveness research studies that aim to help patients and those who care for them make better-informed decisions about their options for treating MS.

Clinic versus Home-Based MS Therapy

Clinics that provide exercise, yoga, and other nondrug therapies are scarce in rural and low-income areas. This study compares the benefits of an exercise program when patients receive it in a clinic versus at home via internet or telephone.

Multiple Sclerosis Portfolio Snapshots

Multiple Sclerosis portfolio - most studied populations of interest
Older adults 3
Racial/ethnic minorities 1
Urban 2
Low socioeconomic status 1
Individuals with disabilities 4
Women 3
As of September 2017
57% of PCORI's 12 funded studies related to multiple sclerosis focus on comparative effectiveness of drug therapies. As of September 2017