MS drug risks to be weighed

An advisory panel is meeting today to debate whether the FDA should allow drugmakers to begin marketing Tysabri again. Patients have found Tysabri effective in reducing the progression of disability in MS and also the risk of relapse. Despite its roughly 50% improvement in these areas, the drug did cause a severe reaction in a few patients, two of whom died.

Other patients who had found the drug dramatically helpful were devastated when it was taken off the market. Given the serious quality-of-life issues for MS patients, this seems to be a case of let the patient decide whether to take the risk. As with many cancer and other drugs, when it’s their best hope, many will choose to undergo risky treatments.

There are nearly a hundred federally approved clinical trials in process right now testing various aspects of treatments for multiple sclerosis.

It is in no small part through these personal risk/reward decisions that the body of medical knowledge grows.