Emerging oral agents for multiple sclerosis.
A variety of emerging therapies for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) are currently in development or have recently been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These new agents offer novel mechanisms of action and potentially improved efficacy over existing first-line MS therapies. Much attention has been given to emerging therapies delivered orally which, at minimum, will likely improve long-term adherence over existing agents delivered via injection. This article reviews the mechanisms of action, efficacy, and safety and tolerability of 4 emerging oral therapies for MS: cladribine, laquinimod, fingolimod, and dalfampridine. The first 3 of these agents are in late development and may enter the market within the next year and a half. Cladribine, laquinimod, and fingolimod have demonstrated impressive efficacy in terms of clinical outcomes, such as annualized relapse rate and change in disability scores, as well as magnetic resonance imaging variables. Dalfampridine, which has already been approved by the FDA, is indicated as a symptomatic therapy to improve walking in MS patients. Based on existing data, these agents appear to have tolerable side-effect profiles, although the long-term safety profiles of these drugs have yet to be elucidated. It remains to be seen whether the safety profiles of these disease-modifying drugs will allow them to displace existing first-line therapies or if agents such as dalfampridine will become additional options alongside current dominant therapies.
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