The landscape of treating multiple sclerosis is constantly expanding. There are a few people here at MultipleSclerosis.net who were diagnosed with MS before there was any disease-modifying treatment (DMT) available. Then in 1993 a new interferon drug, Betaseron, was brought to the market and the MS community had to enter a lottery for access to the drug. It was in limited supply and there wasn’t enough to go around for everyone who wanted to try it.
By the time I was diagnosed just 15 years later in 2008, there were four drugs to treat MS. We called them the CRABs, and it was an easy way to remember their names Copaxone, Rebif, Avonex, and Betaseron.
The many disease-modifying treatment options
Now in 2022, there are almost too many MS disease-modifying treatments to count. There are 23 disease-modifying drugs approved for use in the United States and many more in the research pipeline. It truly is remarkable that we have come so far in choices for delaying or halting MS. You can find an excellent list of all these DMTs along with more information at the National MS Society’s webpage on treating MS.
Treating MS symptoms
There have also been a few advances in how to treat MS symptoms. This is often overlooked because the DMTs gather the big headlines as well as the big dollars. There are a variety of drugs to treat spasticity, constipation, depression, fatigue, sexual function, and more.
I’m thinking about these symptom drugs because it is rare to have a new drug approved and sometimes we have to stop and celebrate taking older drugs and making them better. Such is the case of the news on February 7, 2022, when the Food and Drug Administration approved Fleqsuvy.1 Before you ask "how is that pronounced?” I will say, I haven’t a clue how to say this drug’s name. What I can tell you is the common name for this one is baclofen oral suspension.
Baclofen is not a new drug, it was first approved by the FDA in 2003. But Fleqsuvy is definitely a new form and it is intended for use by people who can’t swallow pills and need a liquid form. Fleqsuvy is meant to be used for spasticity in people with MS and can help with clonus, pain, and rigidity. According to a press release from the manufacturer of Fleqsuvy, Azurity Pharmaceuticals, the CEO Amit Patel said “The clinical profile of Fleqsuvy allows for a tailored and flexible approach to dosing for spasticity, a debilitating symptom that may impact daily functioning.”1
The importance of an oral option
Prior to this approval, baclofen was only available as a pill or injected usually via an implanted pump. Having an oral solution is an excellent addition to the symptom management choice for MS. The study 'Prevalence of MS in the United States' shows we have about 1 million people in the United States and well over 50% of people with MS are bothered by spasticity.2,3
Of the one million or so people in the US living with MS, about 43% experience dysphagia, a problem with swallowing according to another study.4 So we know spasticity and swallowing are common problems with MS and Feqsuvy has the potential to help many people with an improved way to take baclofen. If you have problems with baclofen, be sure to discuss this new way of dosing an older drug.
Wishing you well,
Would it have been helpful to hear from others and their experiences when you were beginning your MS journey?
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