MS Research Roundup: February 20, 2014
NICE Isn’t Nice to Tecfidera; Best-Selling MS Drugs; So Many Papers, So Little Time; Lessons From Stroke
MS Research Roundup collects items of interest to multiple sclerosis researchers from around the Web. Send us your tips: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earlier this month, the newest disease-modifying therapy, dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera/Biogen Idec), was approved as a first-line therapy for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) in the European Union (and in the United States), but it hasn't passed muster yet for cost-effectiveness by the U.K.'s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. NICE wants some of the same data clinicians are seeking for all of the MS drugs: comparative effectiveness. The NICE project team will reassess in 3 months. The MS Research Blog suggests NICE wants a price cut, as it won with teriflunomide (Aubagio/Sanofi) last month. NICE approval makes the National Health Service legally obligated to fund a treatment for eligible patients within 3 months. The evidence-based NICE approach could help drive down unsustainable health costs faced in the United States, suggests a follow-up post in the MS Research Blog. (Bloomberg, WebMD, NICE, MS Research Blog, Biogen Idec)
10 Top-Selling MS Drugs
We did the math. This top 10 list of MS drugs totals more than $14 billion for past year. Last year’s best-selling MS drug: Copaxone (glatiramir acetate/Teva). Last year's best-selling company: Biogen Idec, with three MS drugs—Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate), Tysabri (natalizumab), Avonex (interferon β-1a)—and a fourth product (partnered with Acorda Therapeutics) in the top 10. The list ranks FDA-approved drugs for people with MS by their 2013 sales as reported by the companies that market them. Nine of them are disease-modifying agents, plus a drug whose indication is specific to MS patients. (Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News)
So Many Papers, So Little Time
"People have probably hit the limit of the time they have available to read articles," said the lead author of a study in press showing that a 35-year trend of researchers reading ever more scholarly papers seems to be leveling off. Time out for some shameless self-promotion: MSDF scours the literature for MS papers and offers must-read news and features to lessen your burden. That said, we noticed two recent open-access collections of interest to MS researchers. For the next 6 months, Nature Biotechnology and Nature Immunology are offering open access to a series of specially commissioned articles discussing new technologies and approaches that enable more detailed and comprehensive analysis of the immune system. Senior authors of three of the papers gave insider tips on a free archived February 7, 2014, Webcast. Meanwhile, anyone who missed the two-day interdisciplinary MS Workshop in Fukuoka, Japan, last August can catch up with the December 2013 issue of Clinical and Experimental Neuroimmunology. The special issue includes meeting proceedings, abstracts, a case report and reviews by conference speakers, and a short overview of the state of idiopathic demyelinating disease of the central nervous system in Japan. (Nature News, Wiley Asia Blog, Drug email@example.com, Nature Immunology)
More effective therapeutics for MS may arise from research into molecular and cellular mechanisms of injury and repair that was originally conducted in the name of other common and debilitating disorders, such as spinal cord injury, brain trauma, and Down syndrome. Clinically, they may also feel similar. A stroke may mimic symptoms of a relapse, as illustrated by a cautionary story about a Spokane, Washington, man whose MS had been in remission for 8 years. "The overlap is there because the brain tissue involved with either disease is the same," said a neurologist. The difference in symptoms can be subtle, but a relapse may evolve over days, while a stroke is sudden, severe, and treated most effectively within 3 hours. (The Spokesman-Review)
This post was updated to add a link to the NICE release.