New pill developed to treat MS
A new pill, Fingolimod, has been described as “great news” for patients living with multiple sclerosis (MS).
The drug has been approved by regulators and is a second treatment for patients who have failed on other medications.
It is thought it will be given to MS patients who are not able to control their condition using self-administered injections.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) will assess the cost-effectiveness of Fingolimod and draft guidelines on its use will be released next month.
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Dr Doug Brown, head of biomedical research at the MS Society, said: “The licensing of the first pill for MS is great news for people with the condition.”
“There are only a handful of licensed drugs available to treat debilitating MS relapses and they're all taken by injection or infusion - so the availability of a daily pill comes as welcome relief for many and will increase patient choice.”
“This treatment fills the gap for people who have failed on first line treatments but are not eligible for infusion therapy and we look forward to seeing it made available to all those who could benefit from taking it.”
The news about Fingolimod comes as scientists have found that MS could be linked to the combined effect of viral infections and a lack of sunlight.
Researchers from Oxford University found that the two factors accounted for over 70 per cent of variations in MS occurrence across the UK.
Previous research has found that those with a history of glandular fever, a common viral infection, are more at risk of developing MS.
The new findings have found that varying levels of sunlight exposure on its own accounted for 60 per cent of the difference between high and low levels of MS in patients.
There is also evidence that shows levels of MS are higher in sufferers who live in areas away from the equator, where there is less exposure to the sun and its ultraviolet rays.
"We wanted to see whether the two together would help explain the variance in the disease across the United Kingdom," said lead researcher Dr George Ebers, of Oxford University.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease which destroys the nerve fibres and leads to the disruption of nerve signals and symptoms can range from a mild tingling to full paralysis.
The results of the research carried out by the Oxford scientists have been published in the journal ‘Neurology’.