The first pill to treat multiple sclerosis shows promise, and drug maker Merck Serono says it will submit cladribine tablets for registration in the United States and Europe later this year.
MS patients taking the pills had an almost 60 percent lower relapse rate than those taking a placebo, according to a two-year study that included more than 1,300 patients, the Associated Press reported. The study was paid for by Merck.
"This is promising news," said Dr. Lee Dunster, head of research for the Multiple Sclerosis Society in the United Kingdom.
Dunster, who wasn't involved in the study, said the findings suggest cladribine is twice as effective as current primary treatments for MS, the AP reported.
There is no known cure for MS. Current MS treatments must be given by injections and have varying success rates. Known side effects of caldribine, currently used to treat leukemia, include fatigue, anemia and increased risk of infections.