Melissa Losasso had her first MS symptom 12
years ago, but wasn’t diagnosed until an attack paralyzed her right side in 2004. It didn’t take much
for the Maryland resident with two young kids at
home to opt for treatment. In fact, she volunteered
for a clinical trial comparing two standard MS
meds head to head. For three years she took both
a daily and a weekly injection. For research purposes, she had no clue if one or both of the drugs
she took were real, and, in fact, she doesn’t know
today. But she certainly experienced side effects.
“The daily injection left my skin tough and
dimpled. I’d have swollen red marks that itched
and burned,” she said in testimony before an FDA
advisory committee considering a new MS drug.
Her weekly shot was worse. The “flu-like” side
effects that abate in time for many others ruined
every single weekend for three years.
“I would start to become agitated and depressed
long before I needed to take it. I would sit holding
the needle for 30 minutes or more trying to make
myself inject, knowing I was going to have body
aches, fever and pain within hours. Mentally, I was
IllustRAtIONs By EmIlIANO PONzI
Some of the comers
Fingolimod—brand name, Gilenya
(Currently in clinical trials for progressive MS.)
heartbeat and blockage of heart conduction.
New patients must be in a clinical setting for 6
eyes), herpes infections (most seriously herpes
encephalitis, which can be fatal), blood pres-
sure elevation, liver enzyme elevation, infec-
tions. The more common adverse reactions
include headache, flu, diarrhea, back pain and