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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

PPMS Update: Slowing Down Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis Disability Progression Worth Safety Risks For New Drugs, Say Surveyed U.S. Neurologists

Photo Credit: Designua/Shutterstock
Photo Credit: Designua/Shutterstock
According to a recent wide-ranging survey among U.S.based neurologists who treat Multiple Sclerosis, the consensus among the physician population is that doctors would be willing to accept a certain level of risk in new therapies for treating Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis if the drugs were proven to effectively reduce disability progression.

The survey, Chronic-Progressive Multiple Sclerosis: Amid Substantial Unmet Need, What Magnitude of Efficacy and Safety Do Neurologists and Payers Expect of a First-To-Market Therapy for Primary-Progressive Multiple Sclerosis?, which was conducted by Decision Resources Group (DRG) using a proprietary conjoint analysis tool, revealed that, among hypothetical therapies assessed in the study, neurologists are clearly calling for new therapeutic alternatives to Teva’s Copaxone. While Copaxone is often used by doctors as a therapy for Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (PPMS), the neurologists implied in their responses that they would trade the safety of Copaxone for a new drug that features improved efficacy in treating the disease progression, even if there are increased life-threatening health risks associated with a new drug. 

The new insights reveal that there continues to be significant unmet needs in drug development for types of MS other than its most common form, relapsing-remitting, which features a collection of disease modifying and interferon-based drugs commonly used to slow down its progression into secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS). PPMS differs from relapsing-remitting, in that those who develop PPMS from the onset of being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis see a steady, constant acceleration of symptoms and brain atrophy, as opposed to the “ups and downs” associated with relapsing-remitting. Because the progression of symptoms and rapid loss of quality of life in PPMS is so palpable, that doctors are seeking out new ways to slow down the disease’s progression for their patients.
For their part, Teva would appear to agree, in that the drug maker is currently working on an emerging MS treatment called Nerventra — a promising Multiple Sclerosis treatment that, while not yet studied in PPMS patients, shows enough preliminary efficacy that the neurologists surveyed in the DGR study say that the drug would find application in 24 percent of the currently treated PP-MS patient population. The particular interest in Nerventra stems from the fact that the drug offers a key ingredient in treating Multiple Sclerosis — a putative neuroprotective effect — and has also shown a benign safety profile to date. Together with a patient-friendly once-daily oral administration, medical practitioners are clearly seeing it as a potential next-generation therapy for primary progressive Multiple Sclerosis.
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