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Neurology. 2018 Nov 13;91(20):923-933. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000006502. Epub 2018 Oct 12.

Evidence in focus: Nusinersen use in spinal muscular atrophy: Report of the Guideline Development, Dissemination, and Implementation Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology.

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From the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Child Neurology (D.M., S.A.), Loma Linda University School of Medicine, CA; Department of Neurology (E.C.), University of Rochester Medical Center, NY; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (P.N.), Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA; Department of Pediatrics and Neurology & Neurosurgery (M.O.), McGill University, Montreal, Canada; and Department of Neurology (M.J.A.), University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville.



To identify the level of evidence for use of nusinersen to treat spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and review clinical considerations regarding use.


The author panel systematically reviewed nusinersen clinical trials for patients with SMA and assigned level of evidence statements based on the American Academy of Neurology's 2017 therapeutic classification of evidence scheme. Safety information, regulatory decisions, and clinical context were also reviewed.


Four published clinical trials were identified, 3 of which were rated above Class IV. There is Class III evidence that in infants with homozygous deletions or mutations of SMN1, nusinersen improves the probability of permanent ventilation-free survival at 24 months vs a well-defined historical cohort. There is Class I evidence that in term infants with SMA and 2 copies of SMN2, treatment with nusinersen started in individuals younger than 7 months results in a better motor milestone response and higher rates of event-free survival than sham control. There is Class I evidence that in children aged 2-12 years with SMA symptom onset after 6 months of age, nusinersen results in greater improvement in motor function at 15 months than sham control. Nusinersen was safe and well-tolerated.


Evidence of efficacy is currently highest for treatment of infantile- and childhood-onset SMA in the early and middle symptomatic phases. While approved indications for nusinersen use in North America and Europe are broad, payer coverage for populations outside those in clinical trials remain variable. Evidence, availability, cost, and patient preferences all influence decision-making regarding nusinersen use.

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