New MS treatments don’t come around all that often and when they do, patients and advocacy groups usually make lots of noise. There are two significant developments in Canada, which experiences some of the highest Multiple Sclerosis rates in the world. In a country where patients have to sometimes wait months on end for routine procedures, political wrangling usually precedes any real progress and these two new MS treatments are no exception.


Ottawa approves funding for clinical trials on “liberation treatment”


After a string of promises and a lot of noise from the MS community, one of the new MS treatments patients are the most excited about has gained approval for funding of clinical trials. The Ottawa government has approved the use of a 2.4 million dollar research fund to begin trials on the treatment, (CCSVI), first pioneered in Italy by a doctor trying to save his own wife from the ravages of MS. The procedure is described as inserting a balloon into the narrowed veins of patients to improve the blood flow from the brain. The balloon procedure is routinely performed in arteries, and is approved for other use. But the Italian doctor Zamboni theorizes that his Chronic Cerebro-Spinal Venous Insufficiency is a cause of MS and the widening of the veins can rid the patient of MS symptoms. And there are many patients who have had the procedure performed in other countries, including the United States, only to be out of their beds and wheelchairs with a “normal” life again. CCSVI is one of the new MS treatments patients and many doctors have high hopes for. Trials should begin sometime in 2012.


Gilenya approved for use in Canada


For patients suffering from relapsing-remitting MS, one of the latest ms treatments they can choose from is the first oral medication approved for use in Canada – Gilenya. The oral drug should be available at Canadian pharmacies in April of 2011. It was approved for use in the U.S. in 2010.

Gilenya is one of several new MS treatments for oral use, but the first to be approved in Canada. The patient will have had to have had to try at least one previous treatment method with poor results before being allowed to use Gilenya. The drug has shown to reduce flare ups of MS and also slow the progress of MS

These new MS treatments and trials are welcome and widely anticipated in a country with a very high MS rate. Relapsing-remitting MS is one of the four types of the disease, and about 75,000 Canadians have it.