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New Data Presented at WCTRIMS* Supports the Importance of Early and Sustained Treatment with Betaseron(R)

Earlier treatment initiation and longer exposure to Betaseron was associated with improved long-term outcomes in multiple sclerosis

MONTREAL, Sept. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Data presented at the World Congress on Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (WCTRIMS) demonstrated that early initiation of Betaseron(R) (interferon beta-1b) treatment had a greater impact on long-term outcomes, when compared to delayed treatment. (i)

The study, sponsored by Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, used data from the 16-Year Long-Term Follow-up Study of Betaseron to investigate the relationship between timing of drug initiation and length of exposure to treatment, and long-term outcomes. It demonstrated that initiating Betaseron treatment early in the disease reduced the risk of negative long-term outcomes, including conversion to secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS), reaching a confirmed EDSS of 6.0 or the use of a wheelchair. The study also found that the longer patients stayed on treatment, the better their long-term outcomes were. (i)

"The new analysis confirmed that in MS, timing of treatment is important. The findings showed that even if two patients are treated for an equivalent length of time, the one who started therapy earlier in the disease course had a better long-term outcome," said Douglas Goodin, MD, Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center at UCSF Medical Center. "Patients and physicians should take these results into consideration when making treatment decisions."

A second study, called CogniMS, also presented at WCTRIMS, demonstrated that cognitive deficits can be measured early in the course of MS. (ii) The investigators suggested that such cognitive deficits may be clinically important for MS management decisions.

"Studies are now showing that apart from disease progression and relapse rates, cognition is another area that is impacted early in the course of the disease. In fact, there is a correlation between the level of disability at the start of treatment and cognitive function 16 years later. More research is needed to determine how treatment might benefit long-term cognitive outcome," said Dr. Goodin.

"The data presented here underscore the need to help patients start therapy earlier and stay on treatment for the long-term," said, Ludger Heeck, Ph.D. Vice President and General Manager, Specialty Medicine Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. "Bayer is committed to helping provide both the medication and the support services that people need to help treat their MS. We pioneered the concept of customized MS support services, and our best-in-class BETAPLUS(TM) program goes far beyond treatment to offer a wide range of beneficial services for people with MS. From having dedicated MS nurses who can provide practical help and advice, to offering product enhancements like our new thinnest needle and optional autoinjector that can help make injection administration more comfortable, we continue to lead the way in helping people with MS start on and stay on treatment."

About the Trials

The 16-Year Long-term Follow-up Study is a multicenter observational study that collected data from patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) who participated in the pivotal North American trials for Betaseron. Several statistical methods were used to assess patient data and examine the relationship between timing of drug exposure and long-term outcomes. Drug exposure was measured as the medication possession ratio (MPR) defined as the actual time the patient received therapy divided by the total time possible before a negative outcome was reached (or at data censor). A statistical method called recursive partitioning was then used to divide treatment groups into "high" or "low" exposure and to determine the relationship between length of drug exposure and long-term outcomes. The use of MPR reduces the bias introduced in long-term trials by the tendency of patients who are doing well on therapy stay on therapy and for patients who are doing poorly to stop a particular therapy. Other statistical approaches including Propensity Scoring were used to control for other known sources of bias. (i)

CogniMS is a two-year observational study involving 1509 patients with early MS (diagnosed within two years) who were treated with Betaseron and assessed every six months using tests to measure cognition, fatigue and health-related quality of life. The trial includes patients from 32 countries(ii) and is currently ongoing.

About Betaseron

Betaseron is indicated for the treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis to reduce the frequency of clinical exacerbations. Patients with multiple sclerosis in whom efficacy has been demonstrated include patients who have experienced a first clinical episode and have MRI features consistent with multiple sclerosis.

The most commonly reported adverse reactions are lymphopenia, injection-site reaction, asthenia, flu-like symptom complex, headache and pain. Gradual dose titration and use of analgesics during treatment initiation may help reduce flu-like symptoms. Betaseron should be used with caution in patients with depression. Injection-site necrosis has been reported in four percent of patients in controlled trials. Patients should be advised of the importance of rotating injection sites. Female patients should be warned about the potential risk to pregnancy. Cases of anaphylaxis have been reported rarely. See "Warnings," "Precautions," and "Adverse Reactions" sections of full Prescribing Information. More information, including the full Prescribing Information, is available at

About Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. is the U.S.-based pharmaceuticals business of Bayer HealthCare LLC, a subsidiary of Bayer AG. Bayer HealthCare is one of the world's leading, innovative companies in the healthcare and medical products industry, and combines the activities of the Animal Health, Consumer Care, Diabetes Care, and Pharmaceuticals divisions. Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals comprises the following business units: Women's Healthcare, Diagnostic Imaging, General Medicine, which includes Cardiology and Primary Care and Specialty Medicine, which includes Hematology, Oncology and Multiple Sclerosis. The company's aim is to discover and manufacture products that will improve human health worldwide by diagnosing, preventing and treating diseases.

Forward-Looking Statements

This news release contains forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by Bayer Group management. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. These factors include those discussed in our annual and interim reports to the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and in our reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (including our Form 20-F). The company assumes no liability whatsoever to update these forward-looking statements or to conform them to future events or developments.

* WCTRIMS is the first joint meeting of ECTRIMS (the European Committee on Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis) and its counterparts in North and Latin America: ACTRIMS and LACTRIMS

(i) DS Goodin, G Ebers, AT Reder, et al. Early Treatment with Interferon Beta-1b is Associated with Improved Long-Term Outcome in Multiple Sclerosis. World Congress on Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis 2008.

(ii) S Fredrikson, DW Langdon, K Kim, et al. Cognition, Fatigue, Depression and Health-Related Quality of Life in Early Multiple Sclerosis: Baseline Data from CogniMS, a Multinational Longitudinal Study. World Congress on Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis 2008.

SOURCE Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc.
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