x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

New drug relief for MS sufferers

The Ministry of Health has approved a drug for multiple scelrosis that can be taken orally, rather than through the more common injections.

The Ministry of Health yesterday announced that it has licensed the world's first oral medication for multiple sclerosis.

The new Novartis-made drug, named Gilenya, is a daily capsule that allows patients to avoid regular injections. The UAE, where there are an estimated 1,000 people with MS, is the first country in the region to approve the drug. "It reduces the severity of relapses and increases the time between relapses: 70 per cent of patients remained relapse-free at the end of a two-year study," said Thomas Wegmann, the head of marketing Middle East at Novartis.

The drug costs Dh10,800 per pack, and there are 28 pills in a pack.

Novartis is in negotiations with insurance companies to provide coverage for the product, he said.

* Bana Qabbani