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Siponimod can slow disability in early secondary progressive MS

Trial results published today confirm, siponimod can reduce the risk of disability progression in secondary progressive MS. 

Encouraging results

The EXPAND trial result was announced in 2016, today's report gives full details about who benefited on the trial. 

Only 26% people on siponimod experienced a worsening of disability while on the trial, compared to 32% who took a placebo (dummy drug). Researchers measured disability progression using the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS). 

Our Director of Research, Dr Susan Kohlhaas said: “These results bring us closer to the first ever treatment for people with secondary progressive MS – so it’s big news. This trial showed that siponimod had a modest but significant effect in slowing disability progression, which is incredibly encouraging.” 

The EXPAND trial is the largest trial of a treatment for secondary progressive MS. It involved 1,651 people with secondary progressive MS aged 18–60, who had moderate or advanced disability.

What happens next?

Before the NHS can consider the drug, it will need to be licensed in Europe. Novartis, the pharmaceutical company developing siponimod, has begun consultations with the European Medicines Agency, and hopes to submit it for licensing later in 2018.

Who could benefit from siponimod?

The results of this trial are a positive step forward in treatments for secondary progressive MS, but we still need to know more about the safety of siponimod and who will benefit from it.

On average, people participating in the trial had only had secondary progressive MS for less than 4 years. And some still had relapses during the trial. It’s still unclear whether siponimod can help people who've had secondary progressive MS for many years. 

Generally, siponimod was well tolerated, but like other DMTS, some people did experience side effects. These ranged from minor side effects like runny noses, to more serious conditions, like high blood pressure and low white blood cell count.

Professor Ludwig Kappos, lead author of the results, said: “Although the effects of the drug on disability progression after three and six months are impressive, our study does not yet look at the long-term effects of siponimod.”

The researchers will follow up with people involved in the trial to understand more about the long-term effects of the drug.

• Read the research paper on the Lancet website

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