Readers Responses
> Please read this and forward it to everyone on your email list. It is
> information I received concerning the article which you and several
> sent to me regarding a comparision done between Avonex, Betaseron, and
> Copaxone. My intent in forwarding this to you and other mser's is to
> the point: "there are 2 sides to every conversation, arguement, and
> story. Gather up as much information a you possibly can before making
> decisions and then based on your own circumstances, ideals, needs, and
> information you obtained thru research, MAKE YOUR OWN DECISION concerning
> which medication or whatever is BEST FOR YOU". Don't take one article or
> statement and base important decisions regarding your medical treatment
> a single source of information.

> If you're going to make a direct, head-to-head comparison of these
> therapies, you have to perform the proper experiment. This trial was not
> the proper experiment, Biogen spokeswoman Kathryn Bloom told BioWorld
> Today. What you have to do is a prospective, randomized, double-blind
> study. Timothy Vartanian, an academic neurologist who is director of the
> multiple
> sclerosis center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, also
> criticized the study. It is an excellent example of a poorly designed
> study, and it would really be a shame if patients used this misguided
> information at the expense of information gained
> at painstakingly designed, well-controlled studies, he said.
> Although the study was non-blinded and non-randomized, results are
> to those previously reported in randomized, placebo-controlled Phase III
> studies, Wayne State?s Multiple Sclerosis Center said in a statement. The
> study supports the
> early initiation of treatment and showed that Copaxone had a highly
> significant effect during the second half of the 12-month treatment
> period. No, it was not double-blind and it wasn? randomized. That?s
> true. It wasn?t intended to be, Khan told BioWorld Today.

> Biogen Rival Pays to Promote Study That Cast Doubts on Avonex
> Seattle, Oct. 13 (Bloomberg) -- A company selling a rival to Biogen
> Avonex treatment for multiple sclerosis agreed to
> spend more than $100,000 to publicize research released today that showed
> Avonex didn't perform as well as competing drugs,
> said the researcher who ran the study.
> Teva Marion Partners, a U.S. venture of Israeli drugmaker Teva
> Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Hoechst AG, last week
> agreed to give Wayne State University money to promote results of the
> trial, said Omar Khan, the researcher who supervised the
> trial. The publicity, the bulk of which was performed by
> Fleishman-Hillard Inc. and included production and distribution of a
> news release, will likely cost more than $100,000, Khan said. ``We told
> them (Teva Marion) that it was going to cost us a
> lot of money (to publicize the study) and that we don't have the
> resources,'' Khan said in an interview. ``They've agreed to give
> us an unrestricted education grant to pay whatever price is agreed'' with
> Fleishman-Hillard, he said. The total cost for the publicity isn't known
> because Fleishman-Hillard isn't finished with the project, he said. Khan
> discussed the funding in an interview today after the trial results were
> released. In an interview yesterday and in a press release issued today,
> he said that no drug companies had funded the trial. Today, Khan said
> that remains the case and that Teva's decision to help him promote the
> results of the trial shouldn't cast any doubts on the credibility of the
> trial. He said didn't approach the company until the results were final.
> The results were disclosed today in Seattle at the American Neurological
> Association, or ANA, a medical organization that
> allowed Khan to detail the trial on a printed article that was posted for
> several hours this morning at the conference center in Seattle. Khan
> he approached Teva Marion last week with an abstract summary of the data
> he planned to present. That abstract showed that Copaxone performed
> than Avonex in a 12-month study. That conclusion contradicts the opinions
> of many physicians and Wall Street pharmaceutical analysts who have said
> they believe Teva Marion's Copaxone is a less powerful drug than either
> Avonex or Betaseron, the world's No. 2 selling treatment for MS.
> is made by Chiron Corp., one of the world's biggest biotech companies,
> sold by Schering AG of Germany. ``I think in some ways it was
> important to have the word go out beyond the spectrum of the ANA,'' Khan
> said. After getting Teva Marion's assurance that it would pay the bill,
> Khan hired Fleishman-Hillard, which he said he picked partially because
> the firm has done work for Teva in the past, including publicizing
> Copaxone trials in which he has been an investigator. Officials at Teva
> Marion couldn't immediately be reached for
> comment.
> --Jim Finkle in the San Francisco newsroom (415) 912-2996

> Thanks to Ken Miller for sending along an article from America On-line
> which quotes a stock analyst who is also a physician saying that the Khan
> study is "the stupidest thing he's ever heard of". The full article
> appears below. The Khan study was talked about a little on a
> neurologist e-mail list that I monitor. One doctor posted an article
> about the study and acknowledged that this was a "touchy" subject
> among neurologists. You can access the article at
> Another doctor made the
> comment: I say ignore the study. The only value of an open label
> trial is to find
> things worth studying in a randomized controlled trial and these
> medications already have been so studied. A classic cautionary tale
> is the study of Kaslow et al of a liver extract and vitamins for CFS
> (Arch Int Med 149:2501, 1989). An open label trial reported 100% success
> but a subsequent randomized controlled trial found it to be no better
> placebo. The only
> reasonable exception to this rule is situations where there could not
> reasonably be any placebo effect, such as an open label trial of a
> medication which cures ALS.