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Oral MS drug passes tests

BG-12 suppresses relapses

People with multiple sclerosis might soon have a new option for controlling their disease with pills instead of shots. Two studies in the Sept. 20 New England Journal of Medicine demonstrate that a variation on a drug used against psoriasis for years in Germany holds off MS relapses and has minimal side effects.

“These data look good. Both studies show a reduction in relapses with really pretty robust effects,” says Clyde Markowitz, a neurologist at the University of Pennsylvania who wasn’t involved with the trials.

The drug, called BG-12, has been submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for approval by the biotech company Biogen Idec. Markowitz expects it to get approved. “It would be a clear benefit to the MS population to have another option,” he says. If approved, BG-12 would be the third oral drug available to treat MS.

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