New ALS drug approved in US for first time in 2 decades

Thousands of Americans are diagnosed with ALS each year. For the first time in two decades within the US, a new drug has been approved that is supposed to increase patients’ chances to slow down the disease’s progression and functional deterioration. The drug is already being sold in South Korea and Japan.
ALS drug edaravone found effective among one-third of patients Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

Yesterday (Friday), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new drug for ALS developed by Japanese pharmaceutical company Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma. This is the first drug to be approved by the US in two decades.

The new drug, called edaravone, has been sold in Japan and South Korean since 2015. In the US, the only drug that exists for ALS is the generic medicine riluzole, which slows down the disease’s development among a small percent of patients.

After six months of treatment with the new medicine, along with regular treatments, the data reveals decreased development of the disease among one-third of patients.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), to which the causes are still unknown, received immense attention after New York Yankees player Lou Gehrig shockingly retired from baseball in 1939 after being diagnosed with the disease.

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