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Pills for multiple sclerosis to be available soon

Pills for multiple sclerosis to be available soon

A pill for multiple sclerosis (MS) available after regulators grant licence.

London: A pill for multiple sclerosis (MS) could be available after regulators agree to grant a licence.

MS is the most common disabling neurological condition, affecting almost 100,000 Britons. Every week 50 young people are diagnosed with it.

The drug, fingolimod, has been found to slow down the progress of the disease and has been given preliminary approval by EU regulators, the New England Journal of Medicine reports.

The once-a-day pill should be available in the UK later this year, giving MS sufferers a simple alternative to self-injections at least once a week or hospital visits for infusions, according to the Daily Mail.

Symptoms vary significantly from mild illness involving numbness, muscle weakness and visual disability to blindness, paralysis, or even death.

For some sufferers, MS is characterised by periods of relapse and remission, while others have a progressively worsening pattern.

Trial results show fingolimod, also known as Gilenya, cuts relapse rates for MS patients and slows the disease's progression.

The international study looked at 1,272 MS patients. Those treated with fingolimod had a 50 percent cut in disabling relapses compared with commonly used injections of beta interferon.

The chances of progressing to a worse form of MS were cut by about a third with no significant side effects.

Jayne Spink of the MS Society said: "The availability of a tablet to treat the condition will give people more choice and for many will come as a welcome relief from frequent injections."
first published:January 23, 2011, 17:39 IST