New pill which can treat MS without causing intolerable stomach issues brings hope to Britain’s 130,000-plus sufferers after being approved by UK watchdog

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  • Diroximel fumarate – brand name Vumerity – was approved last month for the UK
  • It works just like other pills but does not have intolerable side effects
  • These include stomach problems, such as abdominal cramps, diarrhea and nausea.

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Multiple sclerosis patients are forced to give up vital medication because of unbearable abdominal discomfort, leading to a new breed of pills designed to reduce severe reactions.

The drug, taken twice a day, works in much the same way as previous drugs that have revolutionized the treatment of autoimmune conditions — known collectively as disease-modifying treatments — but without the uncomfortable side effects. which many suffer.


Now, following authorization from Britain’s drugs watchdog, doctors are hopeful that diroximel fumarate – the brand name Vumerity – may offer more sufferers the opportunity to take control of their condition.

Dr Martin Duddy, a consultant neurologist who treats MS patients at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Newcastle, says: ‘Disease-modifying therapies can indeed improve quality of life, but they are often trade-offs for some really uncomfortable stomach issues. come along.

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‘For many patients this may be too much. Any new option that would allow them to continue with the treatment would be welcome.

More than 130,000 people in the UK suffer from multiple sclerosis, an incurable disease that develops when the immune system malfunctions, attacking the myelin sheath, the protective coating on the nerves of the brain and spinal cord.

One patient who may benefit from treatment is Harriet Bates (pictured), 33, from Southampton, who was diagnosed with relapsing MS after suffering partial vision loss four years earlier.

What is the difference between strep throat and tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis is an infection of the tonsils, which occurs at the back of the throat.

It is a common childhood illness, but adults and teens can also get it. Tonsillitis causes the tonsils to become red and swollen and may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms.

It may be triggered by a viral infection, in which case pain relievers and rest are the best treatment, but it can also be caused by a bacterial infection, so antibiotics may be given if it does not resolve.

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that causes a very painful and scratchy feeling in the throat, and always requires antibiotic treatment.

If left untreated it can lead to complications such as inflammation of the kidneys and rheumatic fever as well as painful swelling of the joints.

If a sore throat lasts more than 48 hours and is accompanied by a large rash that covers most of the body (called scarlet fever), sufferers should contact their doctor.


This leads to symptoms such as poor mobility and numbness in the limbs as well as mental health problems.

About 85 percent of patients have relapsing-induced MS and can go months without symptoms, but suddenly become ill.

During a relapse, symptoms can become so severe that it becomes nearly impossible for them to perform daily tasks.

Over the past 20 years, drugs have become available that can reduce the number of relapses.

According to studies, these disease-modifying treatments, such as one called Tecfidera, which is routinely used on the NHS, can reduce relapse by about 50 percent.

Although side effects are common, many patients experience abdominal cramps, diarrhea and nausea.

Dr Duddy said: ‘If patients come off Tecfidera or other disease-modifying treatments, they will typically have to go on less effective drugs, which means more relapses, or stronger drugs that carry a greater risk of complications. ‘

Vumerity contains an active ingredient similar to Tecfidera which reduces inflammation and protects nerve cells from damage that causes MS symptoms.

But the new drug has a different chemical structure, which means it is better tolerated by patients.

US studies have found that patients with vomerity show a similar reduction in relapses as patients on Tecfidera, but they have significantly fewer stomach problems.

Dr Duddy said: ‘It appears that patients with vomerism generally lead more comfortable lives.

‘They are obviously not completely side-effect free – there is no medication – but it appears that the stomach issues caused by it are much easier to tolerate.

‘This is not to say that everyone should come off Tecfidera, but it will be a valuable option for MS patients being treated on the NHS.’

Woomerity was authorized for use in the UK by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency last month.

A decision on its use is pending from the NHS watchdog National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

One patient who may benefit from treatment is 33-year-old Harriet Bates of Southampton, who was diagnosed with relapsing MS four years ago after experiencing partial vision loss.

Harriet, who worked in a sun-bed shop, was put on Tecfidera, which caused a number of serious side effects, including painful, sunburned skin rash and constipation.

US studies have found that patients with vomerity show a similar reduction in relapses as patients on Tecfidera, but they have significantly fewer stomach problems.

US studies have found that patients with vomerity show a similar reduction in relapses as patients on Tecfidera, but they have significantly fewer stomach problems.

The mother-in-law of four was taken to another disease-modifying therapy, but now has to go to the hospital for an infusion every six months and then bed rest for several days to avoid any complications.

She says a new treatment that can reduce the side effects caused by disease-modifying treatments will help her and others.

She adds: ‘All these drugs have terrible side effects.

‘It’s something you learn to live with because you’re hoping it will help your MS.

‘The idea that patients like me can find something that doesn’t make you feel sick all the time, is a really positive one.’

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