MS drug studies show promise

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There are promising drugs for multiple sclerosis being studied in late-stage trials.

"I'm very excited about another drug which we're testing here, BG-12," said neurologist Thomas Scott, director of the Allegheny Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Center.

BG-12, generic name dimethyl fumarate, is, like the newly approved Gilenya, an oral drug. "I would say it seems to be comparable [to Gilenya] but possibly safer," Dr. Scott said.

Neurologist Aaron Miller, chief medical officer of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, also included BG-12 on a list of "very promising" trials he's involved with as medical director of the Corinne Goldsmith Dickinson Center for MS at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

Other potential MS drugs in or about to be in late-stage trials include teriflunomide, still another oral drug; ocrelizumab, which is given infrequently by IV infusion; Campath, (generic name alemtuzumab), given by injection for a few days once a year; daclizumab (trade name Zenapax), an injection; and laquinimod, also an oral drug.

Campath "appears very potent but has significant short- and long-term risks," said neurologist Rock Heyman, director of the Multiple Sclerosis Society at UPMC and a member of the medical advisory board of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Gilenya, the first oral MS drug that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last September for use in relapsing remitting MS, is enrolling patients for a study in patients with primary progressive MS.

"[There are] no FDA-approved options yet for the primary progressive type of MS, so this is an exciting option," Dr. Heyman said.


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