Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Oral Drug, FTY720, Reduces Disease Activity in Multiple Sclerosis

There could be no better news, in my opinion! I've waited a long time for some official update on this, and we finally have something in writing from the American Academy of Neurology:

CHICAGO – A drug that can be taken orally reduces the number of attacks people with multiple sclerosis (MS) have, according to research that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology 60th Anniversary Annual Meeting in Chicago, April 12–19, 2008.

“All of the current treatments for MS must be injected, so having a pill you can swallow with a glass of water would be a welcome improvement for many people,” said study author Giancarlo Comi, MD, of Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan, Italy.

The results reported are from an extension of a six-month study with 281 people with relapsing MS, two-thirds of whom took the drug FTY720 (fingolimod) and one-third of whom took a placebo. After six months, those taking FTY720 had more than 50 percent fewer relapses, or attacks, than those who took the placebo. At that point, all of the participants could enter an ongoing extension of the study where all would receive the drug.

A total of 173 people have finished three-years of the study. Continuous use of the drug led to sustained low relapses, with more than 67 percent of the participants remaining free of relapses after three years. In addition, the inflammatory activity associated with MS, as assessed by MRI scans, remained low, with 89 percent of patients free of disease activity and 75 percent of patients free of new or newly enlarged lesions.

“The first line treatments for MS, beta interferon and glatiramer acetate, reduce the relapse rate by only about 30 percent, so this is a significant development for people with MS,” Comi said.

The most frequently reported side effects of the drug were headache, fatigue, flu, and cold symptoms.

FTY720 is an immune-modulating drug that binds to a receptor site on immune cells, sequestering them in the lymph nodes. As a result, FTY720 reduces their ability to cause damage associated with the symptoms experienced by people with MS.

The study was supported by Novartis Pharma AG, maker of FTY720.

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of over 21,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to improving patient care through education and research. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke. For more information about the American Academy of Neurology, visit

Now, I have been saying all along that the only reason last year's reports said that so many people "remained relapse-free after 2 years" was probably because they had only been on the drug for 2 years to that point. Now, a year later, 67% are relapse-free after 3 years!

I was at a point where I could not have imagined being relapse free for more than 3 months before I started this trial. Next month will be a YEAR since my last flare. I can't even fathom this luxurious vacation from the ravages of MS lasting 3 times that long.

True, I had a pretty rough time with upper respiratory infections this past winter, but that's a sacrifice I am more than willing to make.

I picked the right study to join is all I can say.


  1. I could not agree with you more! I'm glad to be on this trial too and happier to be looking at the extention so I can keep on with the benefits! Worth the risk in being the guinea pig eh?

  2. That's wonderful news! Here's hoping everybody who needs it can get it, fast!

  3. Yes, Jeri, it is a wonderful thing that you were entered into the study! David and I very excited about your spectacular results so far and are looking forward to your big one year anniversary! We are wishing you many more relapse-free years!

  4. Thank Gawd for peeps such as yourself in this study...that I may one day be able to take a PILL versus an IV or a friggin' shot!

    God bless the FTY720 guinea pigs...

    Linda D. in Seattle

  5. Sounds great! I'm with suldog -- I hope they have plenty on hand.

  6. a pill would be wonderful...i hope they hurry with the research that needs to be done!

  7. Amen - I think my real test will be to watch what happens now that Ive changed jobs and lost Mom in the past few weeks. I can't think of anything else that would guarantee a flare-up more than that. Still okay, though.


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