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New Oral Drug Reduces Relapse Rate in Patients With Multiple Sclerosis

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  • New Oral Drug Reduces Relapse Rate in Patients With Multiple Sclerosis

    Any new medication for us is good news, especially one that doesn't require a stick, but it doesn't appear to be as potent as the Gilenya, which reduces relapses by over 50%. This new oral one, though, may have fewer side effects.- Dave

    New Oral Drug Reduces Relapse Rate in Patients With Multiple Sclerosis

    TORONTO -- October 6, 2011 -- A new oral drug, teriflunomide, has been shown to significantly reduce the relapse rate of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and to slow the progression of the disease.

    The results of the phase 3 trial were published in the October 6, 2011, edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

    “This could be a safe, effective, and convenient new therapy for multiple sclerosis,” said Paul O’Connor, MD, Multiple Sclerosis Clinic, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Ontario.

    Only 1 other oral medication for MS has been approved by Health Canada and by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

    The study involved 1,088 patients with MS aged 18 to 55 years who had at least 1 relapse in the previous year or at least 2 relapses in the previous 2 years.

    Patients were randomized to receive placebo, teriflunomide 7 mg dose or teriflunomide 14 mg. The study lasted just over 2 years.

    Results showed a 31% reduction in relapses among patients taking teriflunomide (31.2% for 7 mg and 31.5% for 14 mg).

    Teriflunomide also increased the length of time before a patient relapsed and more patients taking it remained free of relapses. Progression of the disease was also reduced by almost 30% among those taking the 14-mg dose.

    Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans showed that patients taking teriflunomide 14 mg had a 69% reduction in the number of new abnormalities in their brains caused by MS. The reduction was 48% for those on the lower dose of the drug.

    Teriflunomide works by attaching itself to an enzyme that is important for the synthesis of DNA. That prevents rapidly dividing cells in the immune system from dividing and attacking the central nervous system.

    Dr. O’Connor said patients in the clinical trials tolerated the drug well. There was no difference in the rate of serious side effects between patients taking the placebo and those taking teriflunomide and there were no deaths during the study. Side effects that were more common in the teriflunomide groups were diarrhoea, nausea, and mild hair loss.

    SOURCE: St. Michael’s Hospital
    Dave Bexfield