Let’s be honest – in many ways the holidays suck.
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.
For almost a week I have returned to the status of “college girl.” No, I have not been downing jello shots or going to keg parties. While I have known for most of my life that a college degree is necessary for most careers, until recently I did not have the opportunity to truly consider completing my degree. After my diagnosis I was certain that it would never happen – I could barely type, stay awake, or have coherent thoughts. Time has passed – I now find myself enrolled in college again. In hindsight I see signs that I already had Multiple Sclerosis in college, but certainly not as advanced as it now is. Pursuing education with MS is intimidating.
Cog Fog probably started sneaking up on you years before your MS diagnosis. Multiple Sclerosis alone is challenging, but Multiple Sclerosis with Brain Fog involves a totally different set of problems.
“Brain Fog” is a term generally used to describe the confusion, disorientation, general grogginess, and other issues resulting from cognitive dysfunction which commonly occurs with MS.
Last week Sanofi SA’s oral drug for Multiple Sclerosis, Aubagio (also known as Teriflunomide and A77 1726), was approved by the FDA. Somehow this one snuck under my radar and here we are with it scheduled to be prescribed by October 1st!
First, the bad news: studies show that it’s no more effective than Rebif (and maybe less effective). With Gilenya already on the market and BG-12 looming, I doubt that this drug will make a huge impact. It is related to an existing arthritis drug, leflunomide.
The good news is that it does work compared with placebo and is generally safe and well-tolerated. Because it acts differently than interferons, it may also make patients less susceptible to infections. The more choices we have for treatment, the better.
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?