Two oral MS drugs shown to cut relapses

Two oral drugs being investigated as possible treatments for MS have shown significant reduction in relapse in three new studies. The drugs also showed manageable adverse event profiles, researchers said.

Brain scan depicting MS: oral treatment could have a 'major impact'
Brain scan depicting MS: oral treatment could have a 'major impact'

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.

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