Biogen make the MS drugs Avonex and Tysabri, but has not put out a new drug to treat the disease since the latter was approved in 2004. Most of the previous drugs are given in injection form, so having an oral treatment for the disease is important as the MS-treatment market gets more competitive and puts pressures on Biogen’s core business.
Novartis AG already makes and sells Gilenya, the first and only approved MS pill so far and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. is expected to provide detailed data on the first late-stage study of yet another medication, laquinimod at a medical meeting later this week.
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, inflammatory disease that happens when the body attacks its own central nervous system and it can be disabling in advanced stages. These medications give hope to the disease that causes debilitating results due to lesions in the brain. It can cause instability of the body and make it impossible to walk, etc and can eventually even cause death.
The data show that BG-12, the current name for the new drug, is given either twice or three times a day, and has met the main goal of reducing the number of patients that relapsed at two years compared with a placebo. The study included more than 1,200 patients.
Biogen’s pill was tested on the relapsing, remitting form of the disease, which is marked by flare-ups of the disease, instead of constant progression, and this form is what makes up the majority of MS cases.
The company did not provide any exact details on how effective the drug is but say they will present it at a future medical meeting. They plan to report on the data from the next set of trials later this year. That trial will test the drug against Teva’s Copaxone, which is one of the most popular treatments for the disease.