Background:

Besides disease-modifying therapies, various pharmacologic agents are frequently prescribed to people with multiple sclerosis (MS) for symptom treatment and for comorbid conditions. The present study aims to investigate the types and frequencies of agents prescribed to people with MS in Greece using records from the nationwide digital prescription database.

Methods:

Prescription records for 21,218 people (65.9% women) with MS were included in the study. The criterion for study inclusion was a minimum of 3 months of continuous prescription of an agent. Identified treatments were further examined by age group.

Results:

Antispasticity agents (17.5%) and fampridine (14.5%) were the most regularly prescribed symptomatic medications. Antihypertensives (21.1%) and drugs for affective disorders, including antidepressants (36.1%) and anxiolytics (16.2%), were the most frequently prescribed medications for comorbid conditions. Antidepressants were prescribed at almost equally high rates among individuals older than 40 years. Hypertension was 1 of the leading comorbidities among the study sample, with rates rising significantly after age 40 years and plateauing after age 60 years. Polypharmacy was observed in 22.5% of the study sample, with a higher incidence among people with MS older than 60 years (46.98%).

Conclusions:

Agents prescribed for the treatment of disease symptoms and other medical conditions are expected to positively affect quality of life in people with MS. However, polypharmacy seems to be particularly high, especially in the aged population. The potential implications of polypharmacy in the disease course should further be explored.

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Author notes

*CB and IN contributed equally to this work.