I intend this blog to be a mixture of my personal experiences with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and news related to MS. Hopefully, I can shed an optimistic light on MS even though it is difficult to be an optimist living with MS.

Friday, January 21, 2011

An Outlook for the Future

I intend this blog to be a mixture of my personal experiences with MS and news related to MS.  Since I have now given some background about myself and my diagnosis, I will now talk a little bit about drug therapy news.
On January 12th, my husband and I attended the National MS Society's "Snowflake Social," a kind of kick off event for the local Walk MS.  At the event, a nurse for a local neurology center spoke about the drug therapies that are in the making.  She started off with a brief discussion about the ABCR drugs (Avonex, Betaseron, Copaxone, and Rebif) which have been around for over a decade.  She then turned the discussion to the oral medications and other new therapies in the works.  Today, I would like to start with a discussion about Gilenya.
Gilenya (http://www.gilenya.com/index.jsp?usertrack.filter_applied=true&NovaId=4029462006785065245) is the first FDA-approved oral medication for MS. Gilenya is "thought to act by retaining certain white blood cells (lymphocytes) in the lymph nodes, thereby preventing those cells from crossing the blood-brain barrier into the central nervous system (CNS). Preventing the entry of these cells into the CNS reduces inflammatory damage to nerve cells."  See http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/treatments/medications/fingolimod/index.aspx
As with all medications, there are potential side effects.  As the nurse noted, if we read the list of side effects of aspirin, most of us probably would not take it; however, I feel that with these newly-released disease-modifying drugs, the side effects may be worth a closer look.  From the sounds of it, there are two great drawbacks to Gilenya.  One is that Gilenya may cause your heart rate to slow down, requiring monitoring during your first six-hour period on the drug.  The second is that, on Gilenya, one is more prone to infection because Gilenya lowers the number of lymphocytes in the blood.  Another side effect is swelling of the macula (a spot in the center of retina of the eye).  This swelling can cause symptoms similar to those of optic neuritis.  Furthermore, liver problems can be a side effect.   
I am not a doctor, nor do I have ANY medical training; my purpose in sharing this information is simply that - to share information.  Sometimes people don't know where to look for information and I feel, as a fairly intelligent person and a good researcher, I can provide a starting point.
Here are some links to news articles regarding Gilenya:
The website for the makers of Gilenya:

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