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Trial finds drug cuts MS relapses

Multiple sclerosis patients will be able to reduce their risk of suffering a relapse with a new drug, its maker claims, following a two-year trial.

Novartis, the Swiss pharmaceutical company, said the findings, which were made public at the American Academy of Neurology, showed the drug Gilenia reduced relapse rates by 62% for previously untreated patients compared with those who received a placebo.

The company added that there was a 44% reduction in annual relapse rates among patients who had previously received other treatments.

At two years, Gilenia delayed the progression of disability by 30% compared to those receiving placebos, it said.

Patients who took Gilenia for two years had a much better prognosis and suffered a considerable reduction in relapses and MRI brain lesions compared with those who first took interferon beta-1a and later switched to Gilenia.

Symptoms of MS can include partial or complete loss of vision, an electric-shock sensation with certain head movements, an unsteady gait, a numbness or weakness in one or more limbs, tingling, pain and tremors. The condition can vary in severity, with some patients suffering permanent disability and others only mild symptoms.

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American Academy of Neurology