If it becomes available to patients, cladribine will be the first licensed treatment for MS which does not involve regular injections. The new study involved over 1,300 MS patients who were followed up for nearly two years. Patients were given either two or four treatment courses of cladribine tablets per year, or a placebo. Each course consists of a single tablet per day for four or five days, adding up to just eight to 20 days of treatment each year. During the trial patients were monitored using MRI scans.
Compared to patients who were taking a placebo, those taking cladribine tablets were over 55 per cent less likely to suffer a relapse and 30 per cent less likely to suffer worsening in their disability due to MS.
Researchers will continue to follow the patients in the trial to see how they fare in the long-term. Cladribine tablets work by suppressing the immune system, reducing the risk of further damage to a patient's nervous system.
Steve - while this looks promising, you need more than two years to gauge any long-term effects.