Swiss drug manufacturer Novartis MS pill approval is making a big splash in the medical community. The new MS pill offers patients an easier, more convenient way to get their treatment without having to leave their home. And doctors say this means more patients will continue their treatment over the long term. Consensus has always been that the bottom line for any MS therapy to be successful is for the patient to stay on that therapy over the long-haul.  MS afflicts about 400,000 in the U.S. alone. There is no cure yet for the disease, but there have been advances in both reducing relapse frequencies and in modifying the course of the MS.  But one problem is that patients often have symptoms so severe that they become depressed or debilitated to the point that it makes it difficult for them to get out of the house, or they simply don’t want to leave home. And over time, patients tire of the weekly or daily shots and just discontinue treatment. It’s hoped the new MS pill will change that.


Not the only MS pill approved by FDA.


There is another pill manufactured by Acorda Therapeutics named Ampyra that won FDA approval. But the scope of this oral medication is limited to improving walking ability for MS patients. It is not a disease modifying drug, but rather a symptom reliever. It works by slowing the potassium leaked from damaged nerve cells. And while it may make the walk to the doctor’s office a little easier, it really has no effect on MS when taken alone.

There are also some other competing oral medications for MS in the pipeline but still a couple years behind in development and approval. One new MS pill close to approval and in the final trial stages is laquinimod, made by drug manufacturer Teva.  Also in clinical trial is teriflunomide, from Sanof—Aventis and BG-12 from Biogen


This MS pill is different.


Gilenya actually is shown to reduce the number of attacks, or relapses and helps to slow the advance of the disease.  It is classified as a sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor modulator. It binds to specific receptors in the body and prevents lymphocytes from leaving the lymph nodes. This will decrease the number of lymphocytes present in the blood. A lymphocyte is a white blood cell that plays a vital role in the body’s immune system.