In October 2010 I first learned that Gilenya had been approved by the FDA. The first oral treatment for Multiple Sclerosis! So exciting – but I didn’t dare to really believe that I would be switched to it. I knew that insurance would never cover it as long as I was able to use interferon instead, and I had been using Rebif for awhile.
Tysabri is a dream come true for many individuals with Multiple Sclerosis. Personally, I have opted to take Gilenya (for now), but Tysabri was very tempting when I considered my options after it became apparent that Rebif would not work out for me any longer. However, along with Tysabri’s side effects comes one very sinister danger: PML. One patient on Gilenya has been diagnosed with PML, and it can happen to anyone whether or not they have MS. Knowing that medication (especially newer medications) may bring a risk of PML has frightened us all.
“They” say that you are considered newly diagnosed for the first 2 1/2 to 3 years after your Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. It seems like only yesterday that I posted my “Year One” article. It seems like only yesterday that I was diagnosed! Somehow, enough time has passed that I find myself at a point where I have been living with Multiple Sclerosis for four years.
Have you heard of Acthar Gel, a new treatment for Multiple Sclerosis relapses? Surprise – this drug has been around for decades, originally approved in 1952. Acthar was essentially abandoned in the 1980’s when bested by methylprednisolone.
BG-12 (Dimethyl Fumarate) has not yet been approved for use, but trials have been overwhelmingly positive for this low-risk oral drug. Approved for Fast Track (10 months of review) by the FDA on February 28 2012, BG-12 should be available to Relapsing-Remitting MS patients and possibly for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis as a pill taken 2 or 3 times daily before 2013. The European Union, Canada and Switzerland are also currently reviewing this drug.
In addition to rheumatoid arthritis, Dimethyl Fumarate (DMF) is also being studied for its effects on lupus and cancer. DMF is a Fumaric Acid Ester which has been used to treat psoriasis since 1959.
Neurologists around the world are already planning to make this their go-to first line treatment for patients with Multiple Sclerosis even though Biogen Idec (the company behind Avonex and Tysabri) has not yet released a price profile of the drug. Why is BG-12 expected to quickly become the world’s leading MS treatment?
My one year anniversary of taking Gilenya occurred in May, but my first MRI results and latest blood test since beginning treatment occurred only recently. Multiple Sclerosis can be a very unpredictable disease, but prior to treatment with Gilenya I averaged 2 – 3 relapses per year. My neurologists have told met hat the average gap between relapses is 18 months which I have never achieved. However, I am getting closer every day as this is the longest relapse-free period I have ever had since diagnosis. My Gilenya test results during my last office visit were overwhelmingly positive.
I’m not a picky person. Really, I’m not. Normally I will tolerate any kind of abuse from a doctor as long as they give me accurate information about my health and write the necessary prescriptions. However, I’m now on my third neurologist. What happened?