Sunday, December 4

A new drug to treat multiple sclerosis arrives in Spain

Physiotherapy is essential for patients with multiple sclerosis. / Alfredo Aguilar

Zeposia, taken orally, is a new therapeutic option for the treatment of adult patients with this disease


Patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (the most common type of multiple sclerosis, which affects more than 80% of people with the disease) now have a new drug to combat the symptoms. The new therapeutic option, which has the trade name Zeposia and contains the active ingredient ozanimod, comes from the biopharmaceutical company Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS). It is a once-a-day oral drug to deal with relapses and brain lesions characteristic of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) from the start. Just two years ago the EMA (the European Medicines Agency) gave its approval to this new drug, which is now arriving in Spain, where nearly 50,000 people live with multiple sclerosis. The approval of the medicine has been based on studies and clinical trials in which more than 2,600 patients participated in 150 centers in more than 20 countries. Specifically, in Spain 66 patients participated in the trials carried out in 15 centers.

Multiple sclerosis represents the first cause of disability due to disease among young adults. For Roberto Úrbez, European Vice President and General Director of BMS in Spain and Portugal, the arrival of ozanimod in Spain represents an important advance in the management of the disease. “At BMS we have spent more than two decades researching solutions that respond to the unmet needs of patients with immune-mediated diseases. That is why we are proud to be able to make available to people with multiple sclerosis and the scientific community a new therapeutic option that provides high efficacy, is safe and is oral.”

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One thousand faces

Also known as the disease with a thousand faces because it manifests itself differently in each person, multiple sclerosis is a pathology in which the immune system attacks the protective myelin sheath that covers the nerves, thus causing lesions that hinder the transmission of signals between neurons. This interruption of communication between the brain and the rest of the body can cause different symptoms and relapses in the disease.

These relapses are followed by periods of partial or complete recovery (remissions) in which symptoms improve without apparent disease progression, but during which cognitive decline nonetheless continues to progress.

According to Dr. Xavier Montalban, head of the Neurology Service at the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital in Barcelona and director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center of Catalonia (CemCat), “up to 80% of people with multiple sclerosis have a mild form- moderate disease. That is why it is so important to find solutions that provide high efficacy from the beginning, offering long-lasting remission periods and that protect the cognitive function of patients, so that they can continue to maintain an active life not only physically but also academically or professionally. ».

The median age of diagnosis, between 20 and 40 years, makes it critical to preserve not only physical but also cognitive function. Dr. Celia Oreja-Guevara, head of the Neurology section and coordinator of the Multiple Sclerosis Unit of the San Carlos Clinical Hospital in Madrid, assures that “in multiple sclerosis it is very important to be able to count on treatments that respond to the specific needs of each patient. Zeposia offers a magnificent opportunity for patients who need to preserve their physical and cognitive activity by preventing brain atrophy and delaying cognitive deterioration, alterations, both, that are manifested from the beginning of the disease and in which it is essential to stop its worsening or, at least delay it as long as possible.

Loss of vision, mental slowness…

More than two and a half million people live with multiple sclerosis worldwide, some 700,000 in Europe and around 47,000 in Spain alone. Most of them experience, throughout their disease, periods of relapse in which they can suffer unpredictable and debilitating effects such as loss of vision, motor difficulty or mental slowness, among others, followed by a partial or complete remission of symptoms.

Early and effective intervention can significantly impact physical and cognitive outcomes over time, reducing disease relapses, a highly relevant indicator of patient outcomes. Despite its high incidence, doctors Montalbán and Oreja-Guevara agree that “there is no single treatment strategy. Each person responds differently to the currently available alternatives, so it is very important to have therapeutic options that manage to respond to the specific needs of each patient. The arrival of Zeposia brings new hope to many people with active mild-moderate disease.”

For his part, Roberto Úrbez trusts that this new option “will respond to what has been, until now, a great challenge in the management of multiple sclerosis, cognition, and improve not only the results of the disease but also the quality of life of patients.

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