On Friday, health regulators at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new multiple sclerosis drug called Plegridy. The drug, created by Biogen Idec, is a long-acting multiple sclerosis formula that will likely replace the company’s Avonex treatment. Plegridy is meant to slow the progression of multiple sclerosis and reduce relapse rates.
Plegridy is a type of interferon, like its sibling Avonex. It is injected every two weeks, rather than weekly, and subcutaneously instead of intermuscularly so it can use a smaller needle. Plegridy will become the multiple sclerosis interferon drug with the least number of doses on the market.
Avonex will continue to be available to patients who prefer it for their multiple sclerosis treatment, Biogen said in a statement to Reuters, so those with multiple sclerosis who prefer not to switch can stay on their current treatment. Although oral treatments for multiple sclerosis are becoming more popular, with Biogen producing its own Tecfidera, injected treatments are still common and the company expects to see market share gains from this new multiple sclerosis drug’s introduction and approval.
Biogen will be able to begin sales of Plegridy quickly, thanks to their already having a multiple sclerosis sales force in place and distribution networks already on the job.
Plegridy is approved by the FDA for patients with a relapsing form of multiple sclerosis (RMS) as a new treatment option. Multiple sclerosis affects an estimated 2.3 million people globally, most of them women. About 400,000 people in the United States have multiple sclerosis with symptoms ranging from numbness in the limbs to loss of eyesight or paralysis.
Plegridy was approved after one of the biggest studies into interferon for multiple sclerosis was completed over two years. The relatively minor side-effects, reports Tech Times, include fever, flu-like illness, muscle pain, chills, pain and itching on the injection site, and weakness or joint pain.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease that has been around for quite a while. Although it doesn’t currently have anything like the “ice bucket challenge” going for it, it has had many, many celebrity and media supporters over the years. Seth Rogan, JK Rowling, and NASCAR driver Trevor Bayne are among them. For a list of celebrities who have multiple sclerosis, this slideshow at WebMD lists many.
The approval of this new drug by the FDA continues the advancement of treatments for multiple sclerosis. Perhaps someday there will be a cure.