Top 5 Multiple Sclerosis Articles of 2020 Published By MHE

Samara Rosenfeld

Managed Healthcare Executive's top five MS articles of 2020.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects an estimated 1 million people in the U.S. The condition, which is more common in women than men, is treated with immunosuppressants. In 2020, more research came out on available treatments for MS, along with trials underway to improve the condition.

Here are the top five MS stories published on Managed Healthcare Executive® in 2020:

5. Cannabis Extract Treatment for MS Spasticity, Sativex, Opens in US for Phase 3 Trial

A phase 3 trial is underway in the U.S. for Sativex, an oral spray with cannabis extracts to treat spasticity associated with MS. Sativex is already available as an add-on therapy in 25 countries for patients with moderate-to-severe spasticity who fail to respond to other anti-spastic treatments. Findings of three previous European phase 3 clinical studies demonstrated positive results. The U.S. trials will evaluate the safety and efficacy of Sativex for spasm frequency over a 12-week period and it expected to enroll more than 400 participants.

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4. Do DMTs Increase the Risk of COVID-19 for MS Patients?

MS patients taking alemtuzumab (Lemtrada) may have milder symptoms when infected with COVID-19, according to a study published earlier this year. The study offered data on how to best treat patients with MS given concerns that some disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) might make patients more susceptible to COVID-19. In the study, investigators called 10 patients with RRMS and asked them questions about their MS and potential COVID-19 symptoms for them or members of their households. The team found there should not be an additional fear about MS patients taking DMTs to that of the rest of the population.

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3. FDA Updates: Ofatumumab for MS, More Data Needed for Filgotinib in RA, Hearing Set for ALKS 3831

In a roundup of FDA news from this year, the agency approved a self-administered version of ofatumumab for relapsing forms of MS, including relapsing-remitting disease, active secondary progressive disease, or clinically isolated syndrome. The treatment will be used once monthly through an autoinjector pen. The approval was based on results from two phase 3 trials, ASCLEPIOS I and II, which revealed annualized relapse rates for patients with the condition reduced by 51% (ASCLEPIOS I) and 58% (ASCLEPIOS II). The FDA also issued a Complete Response Letter for filgotinib, noting the need for additional data from the MANTA and MANTA-Ray studies. The FDA Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee and the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee were also set to review a New Drug Application for ALKS 3831, an investigational therapy for the treatment of adults with schizophrenia and bipolar I disorder.

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2. A Differing View: The ‘Inside-Out’ Explanation of How Multiple Sclerosis Occurs

A group of MS researchers want MS to be viewed as an “inside-out” phenomenon starting inside the central nervous system and resulting in secondary inflammation. The real question, according to Peter K. Stys, M.D., FRCP, an MS researcher at the University of Calgary in Canada, is whether MS is a primary autoimmune disease. The view could open up research into new treatments for MS — especially for the progressive form. Stys put the evidence into three groups and though the inside-out camp is still in the minority, it is growing as evidence continues to rise.

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1. Links Between Vitamin D Deficiency and Multiple Sclerosis

Research suggested vitamin D deficiency may play a role in the development of MS. In a review paper published by the British Journal of Pharmacology, investigators provided an overview of the connection and immunoregulatory effects and therapeutic potential of vitamin D in MS. The team referenced several studies published to determine the possible connection.

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