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New Pill for MS Shows Promise in Clinical Trial
Date:4/12/2011

an Academy of Neurology meeting.

In the two-year, double-blind Phase III trial, participants were randomly divided into two groups: those who were given a daily dose of laquinimod (0.6 milligrams) and those who were given a sugar-pill (placebo); neither the researchers nor the participants knew who received the medication or the placebo.

The annual rate of MS relapse was 23 percent lower in the laquinimod group compared with the placebo group.

In addition, disability progression was reduced by 36 percent and brain atrophy by 33 percent compared with those getting the sham treatment.

Adverse events, including serious events, were comparable to those in the placebo group, according to the researchers. The incidence of liver enzyme elevation was higher in patients treated with laquinimod, according to Comi, but he added that the elevations were temporary, reversible and did not lead to any signs of liver problems.

Laquinimod was not, however, tested against currently existing treatment alternatives, the authors stressed. The team added that the new medication appears to tackle MS by a different type of mechanism than other available options, and apparently works by curtailing the onset of permanent tissue damage while limiting acute inflammation.

"Each of the medications we have has a different mechanism of action," explained Dr. Gary Birnbaum, director of the MS Treatment and Research Center at the Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology. "And MS is probably not a single disease. So different medications may work better for some and not others, which is why this new drug could end up being an important addition to the armamentarium."

"However, we still need to have a head-to-head comparison with other drugs," cautioned Birnbaum, who was not part of the study team. "This is not that. And it's also important to note that this is not a cure. It achieved a reduction in the annualized relapse rate, and people on this medication did not hav
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