Cladribine and fingolimod were both found to be highly effective against placebo over two years. Fingolimod was also shown to be more effective than intramuscular interferon beta-1a over 12 months.
Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), Professor Gavin Giovanonni from Barts and The London school of Medicine and Dentistry, who led the cladribine study, said: 'The introduction of an oral therapy, particularly one that has no short-term side-effects and is as easy to use as oral cladribine, will have a major impact on the treatment of MS.'
He added that potential long-term side-effects had to be defined before advocating first-line use of the drug.
Commenting in an NEJM editorial, Dr William Carroll said the drugs provided a new horizon for patients and a welcome increase in the range of treatment options.