Changing the Course of Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an immune-mediated inflammatory disease that impacts the central nervous system (CNS). The disease triggers an immune response by the body in which it attacks and damages myelin, the substance which surrounds and insulates our nerve cells. This damage disrupts the ability of parts of the nervous system to communicate, resulting in a wide range of signs and symptoms, including physical, mental, and sometimes psychiatric problems.

It is a chronic, often disabling, disease. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another. In the U.S. today, there are approximately 400,000 people living with MS. In relapsing-remitting MS, the most common form of the disease, a person experiences attacks (also called relapses or exacerbations) of worsening neurologic functioning followed by periods of remission in which partial or complete recovery occurs.

There are also progressive forms of MS, in which the disease demonstrates a continuing element to its impact (not just occasional acute episodes or attacks), resulting in a progressive worsening of symptoms. There are no currently approved treatments for progressive forms of MS.

Teva entered the field of MS treatment through the introduction of Copaxone® (glatiramer acetate). Two decades later, we continue working to improve treatment with Copaxone®.

This work has led to the introduction of a higher strength, three-times-a-week regimen of Copaxone® reducing the number of required injections by almost 60%. 

Additionally, we have undertaken extensive studies to better understand the effect of Copaxone® at a genetic level. Copaxone® is a highly complex medicine and this improved understanding has the potential to help ensure the ongoing safety of patients. Moreover, it may one day lead to a way of “personalizing” treatment to patients according to their expected response.

Our work in MS is not confined to Copaxone® and the relapsing forms of MS. Patients with progressive forms of the disease currently have no approved treatment options. We have an extensive research program investigating a new compound called laquinimod, which we believe has a neuro-protective capability. We are developing laquinimod for both relapsing and progressive forms of MS, in the hope that this new potential medicine will offer patients a much needed option in the treatment of progressive forms of MS.