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Ponesimod (Ponvory)

Ponesimod is a disease modifying therapy for 'active' relapsing MS. Its brand name is Ponvory and you take it as a tablet.

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Who can take ponesimod?

In EnglandScotland and Wales you can have ponesimod if:

  • you have ‘active’ relapsing MS. That means you’ve had a recent relapse and/or MRI scans show that you have new lesions.

Ponesimod isn’t available on the NHS at the moment to treat MS in Northern Ireland but a decision on this is expected in 2022.

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How does ponesimod work?

Special types of cells in your immune system, called T and B cells, are thought to cause a lot of the damage in MS. They normally kill viruses and bacteria that get into your body. But in MS they damage your nerves. They do this by stripping away the myelin covering that protects the nerve. Ponesimod stops these cells leaving your lymph nodes where they're made. This means fewer of them get into your brain and spinal cord where they would attack myelin around the nerves there.

Ponesimod is a tablet you take once a day.

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How well does ponesimod work?

A trial compared ponesimod to teriflunomide (Aubagio), a drug already used to treat MS. Ponesimod was significantly better than teriflunomide at reducing how many relapses people got. They also had fewer new lesions on their MRI scans.

Ponesimod was better at slowing down how fast MS made people’s brains shrank. People in the trial who took ponesimod also said they had fewer fatigue symptoms compared to people on the other drug.

Relapses dropped by: 30.5% compared to teriflunomide 

This means that over the two years of the trial, on average, people saw a 30.5% drop in the number of relapses they had. This was compared to people who took teriflunomide.

When it comes to disability getting worse, ponesimod was no better or worse than teriflunomide at slowing this down.

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What are the side effects of ponesimod?

In the trail more than one in ten people got colds and chest infections. A similar number had a rise in the levels of their liver enzymes. Over time this went back to normal levels for most people.

Less common side effects were other viral infections, shortness of breath, headache, dizziness, anxiety or depression, and mild cases of raised blood pressure.

About one in a hundred people got a swelling at the back of the eye called macular oedema. One in 70 had a seizure. Certain types of skin cancer may also be a side effect as this happened to around one in a hundred people in the trial.

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