PCORI Awards $2 Million to Study Treatments for Fatigue in MS Patients

PCORI Awards $2 Million to Study Treatments for Fatigue in MS Patients

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) recently awarded a sum of $5.5 million to two researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

Bardia Nourbakhsh
Bardia Nourbakhsh, MD. (Credit: UCSF)

Bardia Nourbakhsh, MD, a clinical fellow in Neurology, received a $2 million grant to conduct a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial to evaluate the effects of several drugs in reducing fatigue — and improving the quality of life — in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of MS, occurring in about 80% of all patients. It can significantly interfere with a person’s ability to function at home and work. Fatigue also can be the most prominent symptom in a person who otherwise has minimal limitations.

Methylphenidate, amantadine and modafinil are often used to treat fatigue in MS patients, although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any of these drugs for this indication.

“We propose to perform a clinical trial to find out if any of the commonly used drugs is truly effective in reducing fatigue in diverse group of patients with MS, mirroring the real-world setting,” Nourbakhsh said in a UCSF news release.

As per trial protocol, each patient will be given the drugs at different times. Investigators will evaluate fatigue through phone or online questionnaires to minimize the burden on the participants.

The researchers will also examine how patients tolerate different dosages, and evaluate the drugs’ ability to reduce fatigue and improve life quality, while determining which type of patient

Margaret Fang
Margaret Fang, MD, MPH. (Credit: UCSF)

may benefit more from a specific treatment.

“Successful execution of our project will increase the attention of clinicians, patients, and policy maker to this common, disabling, undertreated, and under-researched MS symptom,” Nourbakhsh said.

Margaret Fang, MD, MPH, an associate professor of Medicine, was awarded $3.5 million for work that will compare the effectiveness of blood thinners for the long-term treatment of venous thromboembolism.

PCORI is an independent and nonprofit organization, based in Washington, D.C., authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to improve the quality and relevance of evidence available so as to help patients, caregivers, clinicians, employers, insurers, and policymakers arrive at informed health decisions.


  1. Brenda says:

    Medications for fatigue only make you feel horrible. frantic yet exhausted the underlying cause has to be treated…

  2. marsha recknagel says:

    Another complete waste of money that could go to research the cause of MS. “We”–those of us with MS–simply can tell the doctor which of these works the best. What–are the researchers going to discover if one works better than the other by some objective basis when it is fairly subjective and MS is different in every patient. This is mind-numbing.

    • Faith French says:

      I wish more Dr’s worked with their patients. Many Drs are just managing their best outcomes with insurance. I agree research on MS wastes big money. Still, pwMS also need help with their symptoms. This study with existing should have been done years ago. Only a few are lucky to not suffer with this awful fatigue.

  3. Faith French says:

    1) Drugs for MS fatigue are critical for daily life.
    2) FDA approval for MS is critical for insurance coverage.
    3) Other drugs suggested may not be as safe.

    I learned from 19 years with PPMS. Drugs act differently on everyone’s, yet the study may offer overdue benefits.

    Amantadine, Nuvigil, and generic modifinil were ineffective for me. 400 mg Brand Provigil worked with no side effects. I battled with insurance, refused other non-indicated drugs suggested, and spent needed money. Brand Provigil lets me live well daily with untreatable PPMS.

  4. Thank God for this study. Yearly, I have to FIGHT my insurance company to get my once daily 200mg Modafinil pill covered. Without it, I could not work. I hope they are able to prove it does help even if it is only for some of us. Fighting the big insurance companies each year gets very tiring and stressful. Blue Cross Blue Shield will approve the pill for MS patients but unfortunately, that is not the coverage I have.

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