Novartis committed to new therapies for multiple sclerosis community
Recent advances in science are enabling new treatments with greater efficacy and more convenient delivery. Novartis is investing significant resources to deliver these treatments to patients with multiple sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects almost 2.5 million people worldwide, but significant room for improvement in the treatment of this disease remains. Patients with MS have a considerably decreased quality of life, and available treatments have limited efficacy.
MS is a chronic autoimmune neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system (CNS), associated with progressive loss of physical and cognitive function. Regardless of their degree of disability, patients experience a dramatic decline in the quality of their lives. MS can cause the loss of:
- muscle control and strength
- sensation (numbness)
- mental function
Over time, damage to the patient accumulates, leading to permanent nerve deterioration and loss of neurological function.
Multiple sclerosis remains an area of significant unmet medical need
Around 85 % of MS patients have relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS). In this form of the disease, patients’ symptoms flare up repeatedly and are followed by periods of remission. Current treatments for MS aim to manage acute attacks and modify the disease by reducing relapses and delaying progression. Many of these standard treatments require regular injections or infusions, but have been shown to have only a 30 to 35% effect on relapses versus placebo in two-year studies. The use of some therapies is also limited by safety constraints, and they are only used when other drugs have failed. This presents a clear unmet need in existing MS treatment.
Novartis is building a franchise of new multiple sclerosis treatments
Novartis has significantly invested in the MS arena, beginning with the launch of Extavia earlier in 2009, and including a diversified portfolio of novel medicines currently in different stages of development.
Quick Facts: Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- In the US today, approximately 400,000 people have MS
- Worldwide, MS affects almost 2.5 million people
- Women are two to three times more likely to get MS
- About 50% of people with MS need a wheelchair within 20 years of developing MS
- There is no current cure for MS
To ensure the success of their strategy, Novartis is building a team that includes some of the top talent in the industry. The company recently hired Dr. Gordon Francis, an expert in MS, as Clinical Science Unit (CSU) Head Neuroinflammation. Dr. Francis oversaw the global clinical MS development program at Elan and played a pivotal role in the approvals of two important MS therapies in the United States. Dr. Craig Smith also recently joined Novartis from Genentech, where he was the medical lead in clinical neuroscience and development programs, including MS. He was also the former president of the Seattle MS Hub and director of the Swedish Hospital MS Center in Seattle. Three other top managers in the MS franchise also have a combined thirty years of experience in the MS space, including the launch of three major blockbusters.
With one of the strongest pipelines in the industry, Novartis is at the forefront in translating cutting-edge science into treatments. The company has brought this acumen to its MS franchise, along with an investment in one of the largest late-stage development programs in history, studying more than 4,000 people. Novartis also is building a strong commercial and medical network with MS experts, doctors and nurses – expanding Novartis knowledge and experience in the MS market.
Novartis has made significant advances in neuroscience, changing the way many disorders of the CNS are treated. It has pioneered early breakthrough treatments for many neurological and psychiatric conditions, including: Clozaril, Exelon and Ritalin.
“Novartis has been a leader in neuroscience for more than 50 years, and we are committed to providing new approaches to MS care and helping improve patient outcomes and quality of life,”
says Joe Jimenez, CEO of Novartis Pharma AG.
Focused on delivering more effective and convenient medicines for MS patients, Novartis is exploring new ways of targeting the disease. The company has a number of products in development for MS, including one in late stage development.
By dedicating the necessary resources to bring new MS therapies to market, Novartis is committed to improving outcomes for patients with MS. These investments are paving the way for future launches from the company’s pipeline of innovative medicines for the MS community.