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PLoS One. 2017 Nov 3;12(11):e0187423. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0187423. eCollection 2017.

Low dose naltrexone in multiple sclerosis: Effects on medication use. A quasi-experimental study.

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Regional Medicines Information and Pharmacovigilance Centre (RELIS), University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, Norway.
Raknes Research, Ulset, Norway.
Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health Sciences, UiT-The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway.


Low dose naltrexone (LDN) has become a popular off-label therapy for multiple sclerosis (MS). A few small, randomized studies indicate that LDN may have beneficial effects in MS and other autoimmune diseases. If proven efficacious, it would be a cheap and safe alternative to the expensive treatments currently recommended for MS. We investigated whether a sudden increase in LDN use in Norway in 2013 was followed by changes in dispensing of other medications used to treat MS. We performed a quasi-experimental before-and-after study based on population data from the Norwegian Prescription Database (NorPD). We included all patients that collected at least one LDN prescription in 2013, and had collected at least two medications with a reimbursement code for MS, or collected a medication with MS as the only indication in 2009 or 2010. Outcomes were differences in cumulative dispensed doses and incidence of users of disease modifying MS therapies, and medications used to treat MS symptoms two years before and two years after dispensing the initial LDN prescription. The eligible 341 patients collected 20 921 prescriptions in the observation period. Apart from changes in line with general trends in MS therapy in Norway, there was no difference in neither dispensed cumulative doses or number of prevalent users of MS specific medication. Initiation of LDN was not followed by reductions of other medications used to treat symptoms associated with MS.

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