FDA approves first drug to treat MS in pediatric patients
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Gilenya (fingolimod) to treat relapsing multiple sclerosis in children and adolescents age 10 years and older, marking the first FDA approval of a drug to treat MS in pediatric patients.
The FDA first approved Gilenya in 2010 to treat adults with relapsing MS.
“For the first time, we have an FDA-approved treatment specifically for children and adolescents with multiple sclerosis,” stated Billy Dunn, director of the Division of Neurology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Multiple sclerosis can have a profound impact on a child’s life. This approval represents an important and needed advance in the care of pediatric patients with multiple sclerosis.”
MS is a chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune disease of the central nervous system that disrupts communication between the brain and other parts of the body. It is among the most common causes of neurological disability in young adults and occurs more frequently in women than men. For most people with MS, episodes of worsening function and appearance of new symptoms, called relapses or flare-ups, are initially followed by periods of remission. Over time, recovery may be incomplete, leading to progressive decline in function and increased disability. Most people with MS experience their first symptoms, like vision problems or muscle weakness, between the ages of 20 to 40. Two to five percent of people with MS have symptom onset before age 18 and estimates suggest that 8,000 to 10,000 children and adolescents in the United States have MS.
The clinical trial evaluating the effectiveness of Gilenya in treating pediatric patients with MS included 214 evaluated patients aged 10 to 17 and compared Gilenya with another MS drug, interferon beta-1a. In the study, 86 percent of patients receiving Gilenya remained relapse-free after 24 months of treatment, compared with 46 percent of those receiving interferon beta-1a.
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