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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune, neurological disease that occurs when the insulating material ("myelin") around nerve cells in the central nervous system is damaged. This damage can lead to pain as well as visual and movement problems. According to the National MS Society, approximately 400,000 people in the US and approximately 2.5 million people in the world have MS.
Although there are no cures for MS, there are a few drugs that can reduce symptoms of the disease or prevent the symptoms from returning. However, all of these drugs must be injected. In September 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the first pill (Gilenya) that treats the cause of MS. Gilenya works by reducing white blood cells that attack myelin.
Although studies show that Gilenya can benefit some MS patients, the FDA warns that the drug can have some dangerous side effects such as a drop in heart rate, eye problems, and an increased risk for infection.
This is great news for people with MS. The new medication will not only target the cause of MS, but people will also be able to swallow a pill instead of getting shots!
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