BASEL, Switzerland Patients taking an investigational drug for multiple sclerosis experienced “significant” reductions in relapses and disability progression, according to results of a late-stage clinical trial released Wednesday.
Novartis said initial results of a phase 3 study of the oral MS drug FTY720 (fingolimod) reduced relapse rates by 54% to 60%, compared to placebo, and reduced disability progression by 30% to 32%.
The company said the reduction in relapses was greater than in patients taking interferon beta-1a, a standard of care. A biologic, interferon beta-1a is marketed in various forms under such brand names as Biogen Idec’s Avonex, Merck KGaA’s Rebif and Bayer HealthCare’s Betaseron.
“We are proud to have reached this critical milestone in the development of FTY720, a novel oral therapy that has the potential to transform the treatment of this ultimately disabling disease,” Novartis Pharma global head of development Trevor Mundel said in a statement.