Swedish Contributes to New Treatment Option for Multiple Sclerosis

September 18, 2012 Pavle Repovic, MD, PhD

 On September 12, 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved teriflunomide for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). Teriflunomide (AUBAGIO) is a once-daily pill for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS. Led by Dr. Lily Jung Henson, the Swedish Neuroscience Institute was among several clinical sites that tested the drug. Results of the research showed that teriflunomide can lessen MS disease activity. Specifically, it behaves similarly to injectable therapies by slowing MS relapse frequency, the rate of disability and MRI activity.

The safety profile, however, is more challenging than injectable therapies for MS. Teriflunomide is closely related to leflunomide (ARAVA), a medicine used for rheumatoid arthritis since 1998. It works by stopping rapid division of cells, such as immune cells. For the same reason, it is advised not to take it during pregnancy; even men using teriflunomide are advised to use contraception. Teriflunomide may affect the liver and requires monthly monitoring of liver function. Additional monitoring for other adverse events may be required for some patients.

While teriflunomide is a welcome addition to the growing number of MS medications, we’ll continue to look carefully at the risks and benefits for each patient to make sure it’s right for them.

Learn more about treatment options available for multiple sclerosis.

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