New MS Drug on the Horizon

Teriflunomide for multiple sclerosis reduces rates of relapse

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) People with multiple sclerosis (MS) experience their symptoms in episodes. To curb these episodes, there are a few medications patients can take. Now, there may be a new drug option for people with MS.

A new oral drug - called teriflunomide - lowered the rate of relapse (episodes) among people with MS. The drug also reduced evidence of disease activity and slowed the progression of disability.

"MS patients may have a new drug option on the horizon."

The results of this randomized trial - which was conducted by Paul O'Connor, M.D., of the University of Toronto, and colleages - are promising news for MS patients. Not only does teriflunomide repress episodes of MS, but it also slows down the disease activity altogether.

MS is a disease that affects the central nervous system. Over time, repeated damage to the brain and spinal cord can leave MS patients numb, out-of-balance, or unable to walk.

According to the results of this study, teriflunomide can slow down the rate at which MS patients become disabled.

Dr. O'Connor and colleagues found that MS patients who took teriflunomide reduced their relapse rate by about 30 percent, compared to those who took placebo.

Out of all the patients who took placebo, 27.3 percent had confirmed disease progression, compared to a smaller 21.7 percent of those who took teriflunomide. With an even larger dose of teriflunomide, there were even less cases of disability progression (20.2 percent).

Teriflunomide did have its side effects. Diarrhea, nausea, and hair thinning were more common among those who took the drug, compared to those who took placebo.

For this trial, the researchers randomly assigned 1,088 MS patients to take placebo, 7 mg of teriflunomide, or 14 mg of teriflunomide once a day for 108 weeks. All of the participants were between 18 and 55 years of age. Disability progression was measured with the Expanded Disability Status Scale. Disease activity was measured using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

The full results of this phase III clinical trial - which is called TEMSO and was funded by Sanofi-Aventis - is published in the New England Journal of Medicine

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 5, 2011
Last Updated:
October 5, 2011