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A newspaper headline that says "Approved!"

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)

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)

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.”

Treatment options

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,

Laura

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. National MS Society. Secondary progressive MS (SPMS). https://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS/Types-of-MS/Secondary-progressive-MS. Accessed April 1, 2019.

Comments

  • poetgirrl
    6 months ago

    What does the adjective “active” mean in reference to SPMS? Is there some quantifiable measure that distinguishes active from inactive MS?

    I’m also curious about the cost of these medications. For those of us on Medicare, one of the problems is the gap in coverage that occurs after you reach a certain point in prescription coverage every year. The expensive MS drugs are unaffordable for most of us during that time, whereas before I retired, I had insurance through my employer and my prescriptions were covered at the same rate all year long.

    That brings me to another issue. Clinical trials don’t usually–never?–include people over 65, so the effects of drugs as one ages remain unknown or prohibit use of the drug. For example, my doctor wouldn’t prescribe Ocrevus because she believed its slight risk of breast cancer would be magnified in someone over 70 although there was no data since it hadn’t been studied in that age group, an age group with an increased risk of breast cancer under any circumstances. This is just another way one feels marginalised as one ages.

  • chloesmom8
    7 months ago

    Why isn’t this article printable? It’s important information that I would like to save.

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