The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Ampyra (dalfampridine) extended release tablets to improve walking in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). In clinical trials, patients treated with Ampyra had faster walking speeds than those treated with an inactive pill (placebo). This is the first drug approved for this use.
MS is a chronic, often disabling, disease that affects the central nervous system—the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. There are about 400,000 people in the United States and 2.5 million people world-wide with MS.
The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another. Symptoms can be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. About half of all people with MS experience cognitive impairments like difficulties in concentration, attention, memory, and judgment, although these symptoms are usually mild and are frequently overlooked. Depression also is common among MS patients.
“Trouble with walking is one of the most debilitating problems people with MS face,” said Russell Katz, M.D., director of the Division of Neurology Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
Ampyra, when given at doses greater than that recommended (10 milligrams twice a day), can cause seizures. The most common adverse reactions reported by patients taking Ampyra in clinical trials include urinary tract infection, insomnia, dizziness, headache, nausea, weakness, back pain, balance disorder, swelling in the nose or throat, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, throat pain, and burning, tingling or itching of skin.
Ampyra should not be used in patients with moderate to severe kidney disease. In these patients, blood levels with the drug approach those associated with the occurrence of seizures.
Ampyra will be manufactured under licenses from Elan of Dublin, Ireland, and distributed by Acorda Therapeutics Inc. of Hawthorne, N.Y.
For information about FDA drug approvals: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/default.htm
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