Oral Disease Modifying Agents for Multiple Sclerosis Are Now More Preferred by Neurologists

Patricia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patricia Silva, PhD |

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A survey of 97 neurologists conducted in June 2015 revealed specialists within the field of neurology are increasingly avoiding prescribing injectables to patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, as orally-available disease modifying-agents (DMAs) continue to gain in popularity.

The survey was conducted and reported by Spherix Global Insights, a newly established business intelligence and market research company headquartered in Zug, Switzerland with US offices in Cambridge, MA. The company’s mission is to apply commercial experience and unique relationships within core specialty markets to translate data into insight, enabling clients to make smarter business decisions. Through their RealTime Dynamix large-scale primary market research service, Spherix was able to identify that a majority of both physicians’ and patients ‘ experience with oral DMAs has been positive, which bodes well for other products under this method of treatment.

Andrew Deslaurier, Franchise Head covering Neurology, states that, “The MS market is highly dynamic with more than ten DMAs currently available and increased switching between the DMA brands. In addition, evolving attitudes around ‘safety’ concerns and heavy promotion aimed at clinicians and patients has made the competitive environment increasingly complex.”

Even though Biogen’s Tecfidera and Novartis’ Gilenya have been gaining popularity as first-line oral treatments for multiple sclerosis, not all non-oral treatments have been met with the same reception in the MS market. Today, Biogen’s Plegridy remains the only platform injectable to show positive growth rate in the survey, steadily garnering new patients switching from its predecessor product, Avonex. Meanwhile, other injectables are struggling to stay relevant in the competition against more established brand names, each with its own favorable disability story.

A key balance for drug developers, physicians and patients living with MS is being prescribed a therapy that is convenient to take, but is all effective in modifying the course of the disease. The challenge in drug development has been to advance orally-available multiple sclerosis therapies so that they can match the efficacy of injectables while making patient compliance less invasive. As orally-available drugs continue to improve, there is likely to be an increased shift away from injectables in making MS treatment easier for patients.

In other recent MS news, AXIM Biotechnologies, Inc., a biotechnology company focused on global research, development and production of pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, food and cosmetic products derived from industrial hemp, has announced commencement of clinical development of its leading patented pharmaceutical chewing gum, MedChew RX, for registration as a drug for relieving pain and/or spasticity in patients suffering from with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Once approvals by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and its European counterpart EMA (European Medicines Agency) are granted, MedChew RX, which is formulated with 5 mg of the hemp-derived cannabinoids cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) respectively, will be marketed as a pharmaceutical drug for treating multiple sclerosis (MS).