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New Drug Cuts Multiple Sclerosis Relapses

Wednesday, 05 Oct 2011 02:16 PM


A new drug for treating multiple sclerosis reduces the occurrence of disease relapse by more than 30 percent, according to a just-released study.

Researchers reporting in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that Teriflunomide significantly cuts relapse rates, progression of disability, and evidence of disease activity.

The research, to be published Thursday, involved a two-year randomized trial with 1,088 people suffering from the relapsing form of multiple sclerosis, an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system which comprises the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. With the relapsing form of MS, patients experience periods of neurological dysfunction followed by recovery. With the chronic type of MS, patients face a steady worsening of neurological problems.

Study participants were between the ages of 18 and 55 and had experienced at least one relapse during the previous year or at least two relapses during the past two years. Participants were randomly assigned 7 mg of Teriflunomide, 14 mg of Teriflunomide, or a placebo.

The once-daily oral drug reduced the annual relapse rate by 31.2 percent for participants taking 7 mg and 31.5 percent for those taking 14 mg compared with participants taking a placebo. Patients taking the drug also had less disability progression with 21.7 percent for those taking 7 mg of Teriflunomide and 20.2 percent for those taking 14 mg, compared with 27.3 percent for patients on the placebo.

Teriflunomide does appear to have some side effects. Reports of nausea, diarrhea, and hair thinning were more prevalent among participants taking the drug. The study was funded by Sanofi-Aventis, maker of the drug.

Estimates vary, but according to the Multiple Sclerosis Society, between 1 million and 2.5 million people around the world, including 350,000 to 400,000 in the United States, have the disease. Women are two to three times more likely to have it than men.






© HealthDay

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