Novartis has today announced the launch of Extavia, a new version of the standard-of-care for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), providing patients and physicians with an alternative option to help manage this devastating disease.
Extavia, a new branded version of interferon beta-1b, is available initially in Germany and Denmark with other European launches to follow during 2009.
It is approved to treat a broad range of patients, from those with early signs of MS to those with more advanced relapsing forms of the disease.
“Extavia will provide patients and physicians with an additional option for receiving a mainstay of care in MS,” said Trevor Mundel, global head of development at Novartis Pharma AG.
“This important first step also opens the way for Novartis to build supportive partnerships with the MS community and lays the foundations for providing innovative approaches to MS care.”
Extavia is the same medicinal product as Betaferon, an interferon beta-1b. This has a well characterised efficacy and safety profile with more than 700,000 patient-years’ experience and a 17-year track record of clinical use – the longest for any interferon beta in the treatment of MS.
MS is estimated to affect up to 2.5 million patients worldwide and is one of the leading causes of neurological disability in young adults. The disease typically presents in relapsing forms involving acute self-limiting attacks of neurological dysfunction (or “relapses”), followed by complete or partial restoration of function.
Data have shown that interferon beta-1b produces a 34% reduction in annualised relapse rates, and patients are almost twice as likely to remain relapse-free for over two years compared to those on placebo.
Treatment with interferon beta-1b can also slow disease progression. After two years, nearly three-quarters of patients who had experienced a single episode of neurological disease lasting at least 24 hours did not progress to clinically definite MS.
The launch of Extavia in Europe by the Pharmaceuticals Division of Novartis marks the beginning of a long-term commitment to meet the therapeutic needs of the MS community. This will include the establishment of a support program for Extavia users that will foster cross-communication between patients and their physicians and nurses. In turn, this will lay the foundations for future potential innovations in MS therapy. The rollout of Extavia in key EU countries is expected during the coming months.
Novartis acquired the rights to its own branded version of interferon beta-1b in an agreement with Bayer Schering, the company that markets Betaferon. In backing Extavia, Novartis brings over 50 years of neuroscience expertise and resources to the MS community. This expertise has helped to pioneer early breakthrough treatments for a number of neurological and pathological conditions, some of which remain important therapies to this day.
Extavia has been filed with the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS to reduce the frequency of clinical exacerbations (or relapses). Patients with MS in whom efficacy has been demonstrated include those who have experienced a first clinical episode and have features consistent with MS as shown by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
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