Pill for multiple sclerosis in the pipeline

Multiple Sclerosis or MS is a severely disabling disease that affects 100,000 in the UK. Now a new pill has been developed to treat multiple sclerosis which means there would be no need for injections. European health experts - European Medicines Agency (EMA) have given the new drug Gilenya, the brand name for the drug fingolimod, approval which would grant it EU wide acceptance.

Dr Jayne Spink, of the MS Society said, “The tablet will give people more choice and it will be a welcome relief from frequent injections.”

Gilenya will help sufferers have fewer relapses and stabilizes their condition. MS treatment now involves injections to control painful symptoms. That may stop with this pill. It is already approved for sale in Russia and the US. Novartis, which makes Gilenya, said a license allowing Gilenya to be marketed in the UK was expected “in the next few months.”

Clinical trials have shown that Gilenya is less painful, more convenient and also twice as effective at stopping relapses as one of the injectable drugs, called interferon beta 1a. However, the EMA's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use has only recommended the pill for use by patients with highly active relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) who fail to respond adequately to interferon beta, or who have rapidly evolving severe relapsing-remitting MS. Once Gilenya receives a UK license, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) will decide if and to whom it should be prescribed on the NHS. .

Dr Eli Silber, a neurologist from King’s College London, who led the trials, said: “Fingolimod halves the frequency of relapses compared to a commonly used injection. It means people can get on with their lives.”

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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