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Experimental Pill May Ease Multiple Sclerosis Disability
Date:3/14/2012

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- Yet another orally taken medication shows some promise in preventing relapse and disability for people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, a new report suggests.

In the new study, laquinimod reduced the annual relapse rate by 23 percent, and disability progression by 36 percent.

"We found that laquinimod, as compared with placebo, reduced the rate of relapse and slowed the progression of disability in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis," the European researchers, led by Dr. Giancarlo Comi of the Institute of Experimental Neurology in Milan, wrote.

The study, which was funded by the drug's manufacturer, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, was published in the March 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease that damages the outside of nerve fibers in the central nervous system, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The brain, spine and optic nerves make up the central nervous system. Symptoms of the disease can include fatigue, numbness in the limbs, balance and coordination problems, bladder or bowel dysfunction, vision problems, pain and even paralysis, according to the society.

Most patients -- about 85 percent -- have a form of MS that's called relapsing-remitting, the society has reported. That means that people have periods where the disease is very active, and at other times the disease remits. During these periods of remission, there may be complete or partial recovery of function, and the disease doesn't progress during remission, according to the society.

All of the more than 1,100 people included in the current study had relapsing-remitting MS; the volunteers came from 139 sites in 24 countries. They were randomly assigned to receive a laquinimod pill or an inactive placebo once daily for 24 months.

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