Novartis Presents Impressive Gilenya Updates at MSBoston 2014

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by Patricia Silva, PhD |

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This past Wednesday, September 10th, the largest, most anticipated multiple sclerosis (MS) convention — the 6th Joint ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS Triennial Meeting, MSBoston 2014 — kicked off with a whopping 8,000 registered attendees, all eager to learn more about the latest developments in MS.

One of the highlights of the event was Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis’ presentation on their leading product for MS – Gilenya (fingolimod). Their recently-concluded follow-up study, LONGTERMS, showcased the drug’s sustained efficacy even years into treatment.

Prior to this study, Novartis researchers gathered patient data from FREEDOMS, a Phase III core study, and noted that the likelihood of worsening of disabilities in 4 years increased in MS patients with significant brain volume loss in 2 years. Findings from the LONGTERMS experiment showed Gilenya to be quite promising, as MS patients receiving the drug showed reduced and stabilized brain volume loss at 6 years, measured at 0.33%-0.46% – values similar to healthy patients.

Gilenya has had a good start into the MS market, leading the drug company’s sales during the first half of the year with sales totaling $1.1 billion — an increase of about 30% from last year’s sales. Novartis is also marketing an injectable for MS called Extavia (interferon beta-1b). Together with medical device company Owen Mumford, Extavia may be used with a new injective drug delivery system called the ExtaviPro® 30G auto-injector. Additionally, the company is working on a third product candidate for MS called BAF312 (siponimod), which may become a pioneer oral treatment for secondary progressive MS.

Several other pharmaceutical companies have presented or are scheduled to present updates on their own portfolio for MS. Biogen Idec alone will be making a total of 90 presentations during the convention.

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