Metro patients with M.S. hope that new drug expected to get FDA approval will be a breakthrough

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - It’s considered a breakthrough, a life-changer or even life-saver for M.S. patients.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to approve a new drug for patients with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis, and patients in the metro are hopeful that it will be the breakthrough they’ve needed.

“I was tired and I had lost my balance completely. I could not walk a straight line,” said Janet Herman Franklin.

Janet Herman Franklin’s M.S. started off with subtle, but noticeable changes in her daily life. She lost her balance, but she was able to get around on her feet. Recently the disease progressed, and walking was nearly impossible.

“I can barely lift my legs at all to be able to walk, I have to use a scooter to be able to get around,” she said.

While there are several forms of M.S., patients with primary progressive have symptoms that continue to worsen, and there’s no cure for any form of M.S.

“There’s no cure for Multiple Sclerosis, we have disease modifying therapies, they alter the course of the disease, by decreasing relapses, decreasing MRI activity and decreasing disease progression,” said Dr. Christine Boutwell.

A new drug, Ocrevus, which is expected to be approved by the F.D.A. on Tuesday shows promise in being able to help patients with more progressive forms of M.S.

“It will be the first therapy that has ever shown benefit in more progressive forms of the disease,” said Dr. Boutwell.

Ocrevus is supposed to slow the progression of the disease in patients with Primary Progressive M.S. adding improved quality of life for a longer period of time.

"If the therapy is approved, it was studied both for relapse and remitting and primary progressive patients, and was beneficial for both, so it would be helpful for all types of M.S. and the very first therapy to be able to say that,” said Dr. Boutwell.

While there is still no cure for Multiple Sclerosis, a drug with this kind of promise, creates a sense of hope for patients like Janet Herman Franklin.

It’s unclear how much the drug will cost at this time. The news of the drug’s potential approval comes during Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week.

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