MS Drug Provides New Options - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/21/05

MS Drug Provides New Options

Nearly 400,000 people in the US are coping with multiple sclerosis. So, now many are debating whether to try a new drug, a first of its kind. It's a treatment approved for MS, designed to attach to certain cell proteins.

The drug, Tysabri, blocks the inflammatory cells that get into the central nervous system, a problem that can lead to numbness, blurred vision, even paralysis, among other things. Other MS drugs are given by injection, but Tysabri is different in that it is given intravenously once a month in a physicians office. This drug is a big decision for patients because it's so new and it's so expensive at $1,800 a month.

"We only have one year data and were a bit surprised the FDA in the current climate approved such a drug after one year data, but the clinical trial at the end of one year showed a significant reduction in attacks or relapses," says Dr. Howard Zwibel, a neurologist.

"It's important to me because I just need to slow down the disease. I don't know if I can stop it but if I can slow it down I'll be happy," says Elena Cardonne, a patient.

Clinical trials have shown that Tysabri reduced the frequency of relapses by 66 percent, but the long term benefits are unknown, so doctors are cautiously optimistic and not all insurance companies are covering it yet.

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