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Celebrating 10 years

Next 21 article - Two new treatments coming to Australia

1st December, 2010

Next Newsletter-

Two new treatments coming to Australia
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Current disease-modifying drugs for MS have so far required regular and frequent injections.

Oral therapies represent new treatment options for this chronic disease. Two of these will soon become available: Movectro (known previously as Cladribine) and Gilenya (known previously as Fingolimod), both for relapsing remitting MS.

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Movectro (by Merck Serono) is taken as two short courses annually. These tablets work by destroying specific immune cells called lymphocytes, which play a central role in the development of MS. Gilenya (by Novartis), a tablet taken daily, is also an immunosuppressant. However, it works in a very different way to Movectro. Gilenya stops lymphocytes from migrating into the brain and spinal cord by locking them in lymph nodes outside the brain and spinal cord.

Movectro has been approved for use in Australia by the Australian Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA). It is anticipated that the TGA will approve Gilenya early in the new year. Subsequently, Movectro and Gilenya will need to be approved by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee to allow reimbursement and hence affordable access by people with MS. This may take some time.

Prof Bill Carroll, neurologist and MS Research Australia’s Scientific Chairman, gave the following comment about these two agents in his editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine. “In the end, individual decisions need to be made based on the risk and benefits discussed between a well informed patient and his/her clinician, supported by quality safety programs.”

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