Scientist from Britain have made a new drug that they say is the most effective to preventing Multiple Sclerosis. It was approved and tested on many patients. The drug makers are currently trying to regulate the drugs in other countries to spread the good that they have found. The American regulators have not yet legalized it and some fear that if they do the cost of the drug will be extremely high. Hopefully this is not the case even though we have seen it with many other drugs distributed here in the US.
Some very good news for the tens of thousands of people in Britain who suffer from multiple sclerosis.
The results of two trials of a new treatment published in The Lancet today show it offers “the prospect of substantial improvement in quality of life and a better future”. One patient who has been on the trial for nine years, after being diagnosed with MS in 2002, told me he hasn’t developed a single symptom in that time.
The drug is being tried for what they call relapsing/remitting MS, the commonest kind, where symptoms develop sporadically, then tend to fade. In MS your immune system attacks your nerve fibres, not recognising them as “yours”. The drug “reboots” your immune system and stops the attacks.
In one trial, doctors gave alemtuzumab (who thinks up these names?) to patients who’d never been treated for MS before. Over two years, only one in five of them relapsed (i.e. developed symptoms) – compared to 2 in 5 of patients given the best current treatment, interferon. In other words, it was twice as good as the best drug available.
In the second, they gave it to patients who had relapsed after current treatments. Among these patients (who are more difficult to treat) 35% suffered a further relapse, compared to 51% of patients given interferon. Again, significantly better than current treatments.
Dr Alasdair Coles, the lead author of the Lancet report, says “alemtuzumab is the only drug that has been shown to prevent worsening of disability more effectively than interferon”.