Ampyra: A Generic for the MS ‘Walking Drug’ Wins a Round in Court
Ampyra is marketed as the only multiple sclerosis (MS) drug that is designed to increase an MS patient’s walking speed. Clinical studies show that patients who use the drug walk as much as 20 percent faster. Ampyra improved my speed, several years ago, when I was on it.
But, like all MS drugs, Ampyra is expensive. If you’re not eligible for co-pay assistance, your out-of-pocket costs can run around $500 a month. That’s why I stopped using it. But a March 31 court decision may pave the way for the sale of a lower-cost, generic version of Ampyra (dalfampridine).
A federal judge has struck down four key patents that drug manufacturer Acorda Therapeutics holds on Ampyra. Those patents have to do with the methods used to deliver the drug to a patient — and the judge ruled that Acorda’s methods weren’t unique enough to warrant a patent. The judge did let stand another patent covering the drug, but that patent is due to expire next year anyway. The patents that were invalidated Friday weren’t due to expire for another 8-10 years.
The ruling has given hope to 10 rival drug companies that want to sell generic versions of Ampyra. Two of those companies, Roxane Laboratories and Teva Pharmaceuticals, challenged the patents in court.
Acorda’s CEO says his company will appeal Friday’s ruling. “We are disappointed by the court’s decision and are preparing our appeal,” Ron Cohen, MD, said in a news release. “Medical innovation depends on the recognition of valid intellectual property claims. We believe that we demonstrated novel and unexpected findings in our Ampyra development program that led to the issuance of valid patents.”
It’s unclear whether an appeal will delay release of the generics that Acorda’s competitors have been building. But I certainly hope that it doesn’t hold things up too long. I’d love to have an affordable generic of Ampyra available. I’d quickly ask my neuro to prescribe it so that I can walk a little faster and easier again.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.