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The FDA has approved the first oral drug for the treatment of people with relapse-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS).  The new drug is called Gilenya and is a pill which is taken once a day.  Current drugs are given as injections or infusions and have to be done on either a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

“Gilenya is the first oral drug that can slow the progression of disability and reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms in MS,” according to Dr. Russell Katz, the FDA’s director of the Division of Neurology Products.

About 2.5 million people worldwide suffer from multiple sclerosis, 400,000 of those people being from the United States.  What causes MS is still unknown, but it is a disease of the central nervous system that can cause difficulty walking, vision problems and/or pain.

According to a study, Gilenya cut the relapse rate in newly diagnosed patients by 62 percent, and by 44 percent in previously treated patients.  Taking a pill doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a safer drug, as it can still cause side effects, but if patients are unhappy with their current treatments it could be a much better alternative for them.

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