More MS Treatment Options Approved
March is MS Awareness Month in the United States, and the month closed with great news for people living with multiple sclerosis, thanks to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval of not one but two disease-modifying drugs. The two drugs offer even more options in treating and slowing progression in MS in both relapsing-remitting and secondary progressive forms of the disease.
Mayzent (siponimod) was approved March 26, 2019 and is the first oral drug that is approved for people with secondary progressive MS. Mayzent, manufactured by Novartis, is also available for use in relapsing forms of MS.
Bruce Bebo, Executive Vice President, Research, National MS Society, in a release from Novartis, said “We are grateful that there is a new treatment option for adults with active secondary progressive MS. We are hopeful this approval will stimulate a conversation between patients and healthcare professionals about disability progression after relapsing-remitting MS and its early management.”
Mavenclad (cladribine), approved by the FDA on March 28, 2019, is also an oral drug, given in tablet form for a maximum of 20 days over the course of two years. Mavenclad is manufactured by EMD Serono, and is already approved for use in Europe.
In an EMD Serono press release, June Halper, president of the Consortium of MS Centers says “The FDA approval of MAVENCLAD is excellent news for people living with RRMS and active SPMS. MAVENCLAD offers a new and effective option for some of those patients with an oral dosing schedule unlike any other treatment currently available. People living with MS should have the ability to work with their clinician to choose a treatment with a dosing schedule that supports their lifestyle.”
Both Mayzent and Mavenclad are recommended for people who have not responded well to other MS treatments, particularly people with secondary progressive MS. The National MS Society states that prior to the availability of DMTs, 90% of people originally diagnosed with relapsing MS would progress to secondary progressive MS within 25 years.1 Having these treatment options is definitely good news.
17 approved drugs for treating MS
The first drug for treating MS, Betaseron, was approved in 1993. The demand for Betaseron, made by Bayer Health, was so great the first patients to receive it were chosen by a lottery system. At times, I have trouble even processing that we now have 17 FDA-approved drugs for treating MS. When I was diagnosed just 10 years ago, there were only four choices, and all involved injections. We were thrilled when the first oral drugs were approved, and now we have so many different drugs and ways that they are taken, making MS drug choice based on personal preferences, lifestyle, and efficacy for each individual possible.
“Multiple sclerosis can have a profound impact on a person’s life,” said Billy Dunn, M.D., director of the Division of Neurology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in their approval announcement. “We are committed to continuing to work with companies that are developing additional treatment options for patients with multiple sclerosis.”
The MS drug pipeline continues to yield new treatments, and I’m thankful the FDA understands our need for a variety of drugs.
Wishing you well,
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