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Friday, March 9, 2012

More Pregnancies, Less MS?

March 9, 2012

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- According to a recent study, women who have had multiple pregnancies may have a lower risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS).

The study obtained information about 282 Australian women and men who were between the ages of 18 and 59 who had a diagnosis for the first time of central nervous demyelination, meaning they had their first symptoms that are linked to MS but not diagnosed with the disease yet. The researchers compared this information to approximately 542 women and men who did not show any symptoms similar to MS. The number of pregnancies lasting at least 20 weeks and the number of live births were recorded for women. For men, the number of children born was noted as well.

"In our study, the risk went down with each pregnancy and the benefit was permanent," study author Anne-Louise Ponsonby, PH.D., of Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia was quoted as saying.

The study found that a quarter of the risk of developing MS symptoms for women who were pregnant two or more times and women who had five or more pregnancies had one-twentieth the risk of developing MS symptoms than women who were never pregnant. No association was found for the amount of children and risk of symptoms in men.

"The rate of MS cases has been increasing in women over the last few decades, and our research suggests that this may be due to mothers having children later in life and having fewer children than they have in past years," Dr. Ponsonby was quoted as saying.

SOURCE: Neurology, March 2012  and ivanhoe.com

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MS LifeLines Commemorates a Decade of Dedication to the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Community During MS Awareness Week

WHO:              This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the MS LifeLines® support service and the availability of Rebif® (interferon beta-1a), which represent a decade of dedication to those living with multiple sclerosis (MS) by EMD Serono, Inc. and Pfizer Inc.  Over the past 10 years, the companies have continued to develop and expand numerous programs that provide education and support to people living with MS and the greater MS community.

A timeline of key events from the past decade of dedication to the MS community is now available at http://bit.ly/AcMDvh.

WHAT:            In March 2002, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Rebif for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS to decrease the frequency of clinical exacerbations and delay the accumulation of physical disability.

Rebif has a well-established safety profile, with 17 years of clinical trial and patient experience. Interferon products, such as Rebif, provide important therapeutic options in the treatment of relapsing MS. They belong to a family of proteins that occur naturally in the body. Rebif is the only self-injected relapsing MS therapy proven to work across all three key treatment measures: slowing disability progression, reducing relapse rate and reducing the development of brain lesions as seen on MRI.  The exact correlation between MRI findings and the current or future clinical status of patients, including disability progression, is unknown.

The most common side effects with Rebif are injection-site reactions, flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, muscle aches, tiredness), depression, abdominal pain, increased liver enzymes, and blood cell count decreases. Let your doctor know if you have any of these symptoms or feel sad, tired, hot or cold, or experience hives, rashes, bruising, yellowing of the skin, or a change in body weight (gain or loss).

WHY:               EMD Serono, Inc. and Pfizer Inc. offer support and programs to help meet the needs of the MS community. Central to the companies’ commitment is MS LifeLines, a service that provides education and support to people living with MS and their families.
The goal of MS LifeLines is to connect with the MS community, listen to their needs and deliver individualized support. Knowing that the MS community may have questions day or night, this service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. At the heart of the MS LifeLines network is its call center, which in 2010 achieved a milestone in servicing one million in-bound calls. The call center provides individualized support and information, and can connect callers to many MS LifeLines services.

EMD Serono, Inc. and Pfizer Inc. sponsor the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America’s MRI Institute to assist individuals in acquiring one cranial MRI per year. The companies believe that a commitment to research in unlocking understanding of MS is critical to moving closer to our shared goal of a world free of this disease.

ABOUT MS:    Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, inflammatory condition of the central nervous system and is the most common, non-traumatic, disabling neurological disease in young adults. It is estimated that there are approximately 400,000 people in the United States living with MS.

While symptoms can vary, the most common symptoms of MS include blurred vision, numbness or tingling in the limbs and problems with strength and coordination. The relapsing forms of MS are the most common.

Rebif is used to treat relapsing forms of MS to decrease the frequency of relapses and delay the occurrence of some of the physical disability that is common in people with MS. Rebif is not approved for treatment of chronic progressive MS. Rebif is available in 22 mcg and 44 mcg prefilled, preassembled syringes and a titration pack by prescription only.

Before beginning treatment, patients should discuss with their doctor the potential benefits and risks associated with Rebif. Let your doctor know if you have a history of depression, seizures, liver disease, thyroid problems, or blood cell count or bleeding problems, or if you have had previous allergic reactions to medications. Tell your doctor about all medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Rebif and other medicines may affect each other causing serious side effects. Talk to your doctor before you take any new medicines. Rebif is not recommended for women who are or plan to become pregnant.

Potential serious side effects of Rebif include depression and risk of suicide, liver problems, risk to pregnancy, injection-site problems, and severe allergic reactions. Allergic reactions are rare and may be associated with difficulty in breathing and loss of consciousness, which require immediate medical attention.

The most common side effects with Rebif are injection-site reactions, flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, muscle aches, tiredness), depression, abdominal pain, increased liver enzymes, and blood cell count decreases. Let your doctor know if you have any of these symptoms or feel sad, tired, hot or cold, or experience hives, rashes, bruising, yellowing of the skin, or a change in body weight (gain or loss).

This information is not intended to replace discussions with your doctor. For additional information about Rebif, please consult the Prescribing Information and Medication Guide at www.Rebif.com and talk to your doctor. You can also visit www.mslifelines.com or call toll-free 1-877-44-REBIF (1-877-447-3243). Rebif is available by prescription only.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

CONTACT:      Erin-Marie Beals, erin.beals@emdserono.com, 781-681-2850

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

What Our Partners Should Know About Our MS

By Trevis Gleason

There are a lot of people who regularly read this blog about life with multiple sclerosis. There are even more who stumble upon our pages via internet searches. Some, from each category, do not have MS, though they live with the disease; they are the partners of MS.
I think we did this one time before, with limited success, but I thought it was worth another go. I’d like for each of us who live with a diagnosis of MS to chime in and let the partners of MS know what we’d like them to know about our half of the equation. Our comment pages have helped so many people living with MS that I thought we’d take a crack at helping those who look at multiple sclerosis from the other side of the mirror.
Maybe you’d like to use your comment to inform your loved one about something. Even if they don’t read our blog, someone else might be thinking they wish their partner knew the same things you’d like yours to know. I think we all know how powerful it can feel to see exactly what you are feeling written by someone else living with MS. Let’s see if we can’t create the same in these pages.
I often get asked what I wish people knew about MS. It’s a very personal question and leads to a very personal answer. I’ll bet that many of you have an answer that you’d be able to rattle off if anyone would just ask you that question.
Well, I’m asking.
As for me, I’d say to Caryn (and we have had these conversations) that just because I try to do something at which I’ll likely fail (due to pushing the envelope that our disease puts around us), it does not mean that I don’t need help. It means that I do want her help and need her support, but that MS has taken so much that I’d like to try to fight it on this one front.
I think this topic has some legs (as in I think we’ll follow this conversation up with asking the partners who do read these pages to share with other partners what tips they’ve learned. I also think that a reverse conversation where partners tell us what they might have a hard time saying to our faces would be interesting…maybe next week).
For now, I look forward to the advice you’re willing to give to those who live with us while we live with MS.
Wishing you and your family the best of health.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Scientists to use hookworms in tests to control symptoms of MS

PATIENTS with multiple sclerosis could be treated with parasitic worms, University of Nottingham scientists have revealed.
They have begun recruiting people with the neurological condition for a trial that will see them infected with a low, harmless dose of hookworm.
Scientists are hoping the presence of hookworms in the body will switch off the mechanism by which the body's immune system becomes overactive, the main cause of MS.
The study is being led by Professor Cris Constantinescu, of the school of clinical sciences, and David Pritchard, professor of parasite immunology.
Mr Pritchard said: "This study appears counter-intuitive — we are introducing a parasite which is by definition harmful, to act as a stimulus to moderate disease.
"As a safeguard the hookworms are being used in carefully-controlled and monitored conditions, and if successful could herald a much-needed therapy for MS patients.
"Currently, there are many MS patients for whom conventional medicines are ineffective or are associated with unwanted side effects.
"Hookworms have an innate ability to moderate the immune system to allow them to survive in the body for years. This moderation may have a bystander effect on the progression of MS."
The study team is in the process of recruiting more than 70 patients from Nottingham and Derby with the most common type of the disease, relapsing remitting MS, in which symptoms such as vision problems, dizziness and fatigue appear and then fade away, either partly or completely.

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In Philadelphia: Research Shows Half of Local Residents Have a Connection to Multiple Sclerosis

PHILADELPHIA, PA--(Marketwire - Mar 7, 2012) - A new research study shows that one out of every two local residents knows someone living with multiple sclerosis. Because of these results, the Greater Delaware Valley Chapter of the National MS Society is asking everyone who has a connection to MS to take action against the disease during National MS Awareness Week, March 12-18, 2012.
In order to establish a baseline measure of awareness of multiple sclerosis (MS), the chapter recently conducted a research study in the form of an online survey of a sample of 350 residents within the chapter's broad service area, which includes the five-county Philadelphia metro area, the Lehigh Valley and Southern N.J. Results show that 50% of those polled know someone living with MS and 21% have a close connection such as a good friend or family member living with the disease.
"We've all heard the term 'six degrees of separation,' the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away, from any other person," said Tami Caesar, president of the Greater Delaware Valley Chapter. "With 50 percent of local residents having a connection to MS, for us it's more like two degrees of separation. Whether it's a family member, a friend, co-worker or neighbor -- we all know someone affected by MS."

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Novartis Multiple Sclerosis Pill Loses "Some" Market Share

You Read, You Decide...  

A Link to the complete story is found below this abstract version of keynotes. 

Gilenya multiple sclerosis pill lost market share for the first time in January, following the deaths of some patients soon after taking the first pill available for the disease in the U.S.
The deaths have “made me a little more cautious,” said Aaron Miller, chief medical officer of the U.S. National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and a medical director at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “I am not somebody who has recommended Gilenya as a first-line drug prior to these reports, and I’m still not recommending it as a first-line drug until we get more data.”
Miller has about 800 patients under his care and has put about 30 on Gilenya since it was approved, he said. He prefers injectable drugs, which include products such as Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA)’s Copaxone and Biogen Idec Inc.’s Tysabri as first-line treatments.

New Prescriptions

There have been a record number of new prescriptions in the U.S. in the past few weeks, Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis said in an e-mailed statement. The rate of growth may slow and then accelerate again, the company said.
“Some uncertainty is to be expected in the marketplace as some physicians and patients wait for final review and potential label changes,” Novartis said. “Overall, we see Gilenya continuing to grow in volume. Gilenya potential is seen as unchanged.”
The trend in analysts’ sales estimates for Gilenya is “exactly a reflection of the safety concerns,” Martin Voegtli, an analyst at Kepler Capital Markets SA in Zurich, said in an e- mail. On Feb. 24, Voegtli cut his forecasts by 12 percent to $1.96 billion in 2016 and by 11 percent to $2.1 billion in 2017.
“We still expect Gilenya to remain on the market and return to growth once the reviews have been completed,” he said.

11 Deaths

Novartis said Dec. 12 that a U.S. patient had died within 24 hours of starting treatment with Gilenya, triggering reviews by the FDA and EMA, which reported a further 10 deaths among patients taking the medicine. Six of those deaths were unexplained, three patients died of heart attacks and one due to disruption of heart rhythm, the EMA said Jan. 20.
“A role for Gilenya can neither be confirmed nor excluded at this time,” Novartis said of the U.S. death.
The EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use has said it expects to complete its review by its March meeting, which is scheduled for next week.
Worldwide sales of MS immunomodulatory medicines exceeded $11 billion in 2010. The U.S. market was about $5.2 billion, according to Wolters Kluwer data, though that doesn’t account for rebates and discounts and may not include all U.S. sales. Weekly prescriptions for Gilenya have declined 1.5 percent since reaching a peak in December, according to the four-week average of Wolters Kluwer data analyzed by Bloomberg Industries.

Cardiac Issues

Timothy Vollmer, professor and director of clinical research in neurology at the University of Colorado in Denver, said he has stopped using Gilenya in patients who had been taking older treatments.
“If they have any history of any kind of cardiac disease, we won’t consider the drug,” Vollmer said in a telephone interview. “For older patients, we’re a little bit reluctant because of the cardiac issues.”
About 10 percent of patients have been taken off Gilenya after a careful review of safety information, Vollmer said. His clinic has about 2,000 patients, including 800 on Tysabri and 150 on Gilenya. Novartis has told Vollmer the clinic is one of the biggest Gilenya prescribers in the U.S., he said. Vollmer said he hasn’t seen any of his patients experience Gilenya- related heart issues.

‘Let Down’

“We actually felt substantially let down by the company, because they knew about those things and they weren’t telling us about it,” Vollmer said in a telephone interview. “For us to use it the way we were using it we needed to feel that they were going to be quite forthcoming with all the safety information.”
MS causes the immune system to attack the insulating tissue around nerve fibers. This stops nerve cells from sending signals, sapping patients’ energy, blurring their vision and slowly robbing them of mobility, balance and coordination.
Treatments are designed to rein in the immune system, which can lead to side effects. Gilenya, the first MS pill to reach the market, blocks white blood cells called lymphocytes from circulating in the body, preventing them from reaching and doing damage to the brain, spinal cord and optical nerves.
It isn’t clear whether the drug contributed to the deaths that regulators are reviewing, and the rate of fatalities is in line with the expected rate based on the 30,000 patients who have been treated so far, Novartis said in January.

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