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New pill could spell the end of MS injections

New pill could spell the end of MS injections
28th February 2014

Multiple sclerosis (MS) patients could soon take a simple tablet twice a day rather than injections.

Some 35,000 people around the world are already using a drug called Tecfidera and now it has been licensed in the United Kingdom.

Tests have found that the medication is capable of lower the rate of MS relapses by 50 per cent as well as delay the progression of the illness by a fifth.

The drug was originally developed to treat the skin condition psoriasis, but scientists found that by making slight modifications they could create a product suitable for MS patients.

Belinda Weller, a consultant neurologist at Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurological Clinic in Edinburgh, said nobody is quite sure how the drug works, but its results cannot be argued with.

She added that many of patients hate being injected and this medication is something they have been calling for.

The drug will cost around £17,900 a year, making it similar to existing treatments.

Some 95 per cent of people with relapsing remitting MS told the MS Society that wanted an alternative to daily injections when surveyed in 2010.

Michelle Mitchell, the charity's chief executive, said the licensing of Tecfidera is very good news for patients.

"Effective as injectable treatments may be, the reality is that regular injections are not an appealing prospect and many people experience injection reactions, which can be unpleasant," she said.

"We're expecting NHS advisory bodies to announce their decision on whether the treatment should be freely available in the coming months."

MS is a progressive condition that attacks nerve cells. It is currently incurable and affects more than 100,000 people in the UK.

For reasons that are not fully understood, the condition is more common in women and the average onset age is 32.

Last September, a study conducted by the University of Dundee found that the number of people diagnosed with the illness fell by a rate of per cent per year in the two decades up to 2010.

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