Once-daily MS Pill Hit the Market in October
Another Oral Drug is Approved for Relapsing Forms of MS
In September, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved teriflunomide once-daily pills (Aubagio®, Genzyme, a Sanofi company) to treat relapsing forms of MS. This is the second oral disease-modifying therapy approved for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. Aubagio (pronounced oh-BAH-gee-oh) is a novel oral compound that inhibits the function of specific immune cells that have been implicated in MS.
Aubagio can inhibit a key enzyme required by white blood cells (lymphocytes), reducing the proliferation of T and B immune cells active in MS and also inhibiting the production of immune messenger chemicals by T cells. Clinical trials of oral teriflunomide showed that the treatment reduced the average number of MS relapses in a year significantly more than inactive placebo. The therapy also reduced the volume of tissue damage and active areas of damage in those who were taking teriflunomide compared to placebo at the end of a two-year trial.
In all trials to date, Aubagio was generally safe and well-tolerated. The most common side effects experienced by participants in clinical trials include diarrhea, abnormal liver tests, nausea, flu, and hair thinning.
The prescribing information includes a boxed warning related to the potential for liver damage in persons taking Aubagio. There is also a warning that Aubagio is not indicated for women who are pregnant or women with childbearing potential who are not using reliable contraception. Before people begin taking Aubagio, they should have a blood test or have had one within six months to detect levels of liver enzymes and levels of blood cells (Complete Blood Count). They should also have their blood pressure checked, and have a screening test for tuberculosis (tuberculin skin test). It should be verified in women of childbearing potential that they are not pregnant before taking Aubagio.
After starting Aubagio, blood tests to detect liver enzymes should be done at least monthly for the first six months, and then patients should be monitored for signs of liver damage. Patients should also be monitored for signs of infection, and blood pressure should be checked periodically. As with any new therapy, the long-term safety of Aubagio will need to be carefully monitored.
Taking a disease-modifying therapy is currently the best way to reduce MS disease activity and future deterioration. Selecting an MS therapy should be done by people with MS in collaboration with their MS doctors, taking into account a variety of factors, including the effectiveness of any therapy they are currently using, and weighing potential risks and benefits, costs and lifestyle factors.
National MS Society’s Volunteer Hall of Fame
Two of our long-time volunteers have been inducted into the National MS Society’s Volunteer Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is a place reserved for outstanding individuals who have tirelessly volunteered to create a world free of MS. The Greater New England Chapter is very well represented with 22 members.
|In the Health Professional category: Dr. David Rintell is a Psychologist who holds key positions at six prestigious Boston medical institutions. He works with adults with MS at the MetroWest Medical Center MS Center and the Partners MS Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, as well as families with a child who has MS at the Partners Pediatric MS Center at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children. He is also Principal Investigator on “Quality of Mental Health Care in Multiple Sclerosis,” and co-investigator on the “Harvard MS Natural History Study.”|
|In the Advocacy category: Dr. Linda Buchwald, Director of the Mt. Auburn Hospital MS Care Center, is a tireless and enthusiastic activist who has inspired others to join the advocacy movement. She has championed federal, state, and private sector advocacy issues to ensure access to quality health care for all MS patients. Most recently, she successfully guided the Prescription Coupon Bill into Massachusetts law, providing access to treatment for more people with MS.|