Dalfampridine, marketed under the name Ampyra by Acorda Therapeutics in the United States (also referred to as Fampyra in Europe), is an FDA-approved drug that is used to improve walking in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Owing to its chemical properties and its role in the regulation of potassium channels on cell membranes, it is also used as a research tool in therapeutics dealing with several unmet medical conditions, as well as a convulsant to test for anti-seizure agents.
History of Ampyra
Ampyra was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in January 2010 as a drug to treat symptoms of MS in patients, and was shown to be an effective compound that improved walking in adults with the disease. The FDA approval was followed by Health Canada’s approval in February 2012.
The approvals were supported by a series of clinical trials conducted to test the efficacy and safety of the drug in patients. By the end of Phase 3 clinical trials in 2008, it was clear that Ampyra improved walking capacities in patients who were given the oral formulation as compared to participants taking a placebo. Walking difficulty is one of the major problems faced by people with MS, making Ampyra the first drug to be approved by the FDA to treat this MS symptom.
How Ampyra Works
The mode of action of Ampyra involves the blocking of potassium channels on cell membranes, including nerve cells, reducing the leakage of current from the axons, restoring neuronal conduction, and action potential formation. It improves the quality of nerve impulses conducted between nerve fibers, whose myelin sheath has already been damaged by MS.
As an oral formulation, the general dosage for Ampyra is 10mg, twice daily. An increase in dosage should always be approved by a specialist, as high amounts of the compound can cause seizures. In addition, people with moderate to severe kidney diseases should refrain from taking Ampyra. According to Acorda, the most common side effects include allergic reactions, insomnia, dizziness, urinary tract infections, throat pains, constipation, headache, and nausea.
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