year. In addition to tablets and capsules, some are
“infrequent dosing” treatments delivered as periodic IV infusions or as a short series of injections
every few months or only once a year.
We now have a powerful game changer for people
like Losasso whose lives have been marred by
unrelenting side effects. We will have some new
options for people who have continued to have
MS attacks despite conscientiously taking injections. And there is new hope for people with
needle fear so severe that they cannot consider
Risk—the Catch- 22
But more options mean it’s going to be complicated—because of the sheer number of drugs and
because of a new level of serious risk.
Almost all the coming new drugs, including the
just approved Gilenya, carry risks that are fairly
new in the MS world. Tysabri could be considered
a harbinger of this new situation. Tysabri is power-
fully effective but has produced a relatively rare
sive multifocal leukoencephalopathy) caused by JC
and some deaths in Tysabri users, despite careful
researcher at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and
a member of the Society’s board of clinical advisors, about drug safety.
“When a new medicine arrives, typically only a
few thousand people will have received it for no
more than a couple of years. That doesn’t tell you
what you really need to know about safety. As for
efficacy, it’s taken forever to get solid data supporting the idea that our standard MS drugs do help
some people in a meaningful way, by lowering
their likelihood of disability,” he said.
Older drugs in new packages
As if considering the new choices weren’t tough
enough, Dr. Adil Javed, an MS researcher at the
University of Chicago, noted at a recent presentation that many current brands will soon
emerge out of patent protection. So in addition
(based on weight), repeated four weeks later
and then once a year for relapsing forms of MS
placebo. The standard therapies reduce relapses
by about one-third.
lowered immunity to infections; and risk of
herpes zoster infections. In one trial, three
cases of cancer and one pre-cancerous lesion
occurred plus one more during the monitoring
period. These numbers were considered too
small to establish cancer risk.