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Sunday 26th May 2019

New MS drug is 'most effective'

1st November 2012

Scientists from the Cambridge University have found that a leukaemia drug is proving to be the most effective treatment for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.


During the study, researchers tested alemtuzumab, which had already shown benefits for MS in small studies, and compared it with a first-choice drug, interferon beta-1a.

In MS the body’s immune system turns on its own nerves causing debilitating muscle problems but the Cambridge team found the cancer drug, which wipes out and resets the immune system, showed better results than other options.

Two trials published in the Lancet found the drug was around 50% more effective at preventing relapses and patients had less disability at the end of the study than when they started.

Researcher Dr Alasdair Coles said; “Although other MS drugs have emerged over the last year, which is certainly good news for patients, none has shown superior effects on disability when compared to interferon except alemtuzumab.”

But he did warn that side effects included developing other immune disorders.

Relapsing-remitting MS is where the symptoms can almost disappear for a time, before suddenly returning.

Dr Doug Brown, head of biomedical research at the MS Society, said the findings were great news for people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis but he urged manufacturer Genzyme to price the treatment responsibly so that if it is licensed for the treatment, it can be cost-effective on the NHS.

A Lancet editorial warned: “There is concern that with a licence for multiple sclerosis, the cost of alemtuzumab could rise and might become too expensive for many patients and health systems.”


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