The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Aubagio (teriflunomide), a once-a-day tablet for the treatment of adults with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS).
“In a clinical trial, the relapse rate for patients using Aubagio was about 30 percent lower than the rate for those taking a placebo,” said Russell Katz, M.D., director of the Division of Neurology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Multiple sclerosis can impair movement, sensation, and thinking, so it is important to have a variety of treatment options available to patients.”
MS is a chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune disease of the central nervous system that disrupts communication between the brain and other parts of the body. It is among the most common causes of neurological disability in young adults and occurs at least twice as frequently in women as in men. For most people with MS, episodes of worsening function (relapses) are initially followed by recovery periods (remissions). Over time, recovery periods may be incomplete, leading to progressive decline.
The most common side effects of Aubagio experienced by patients in clinical trials include diarrhea, abnormal liver tests, nausea, and hair loss.
The drug contains a Boxed Warning to alert prescribers and patients to the risk of liver problems, including death, and a risk of birth defects. Physicians should do blood tests to check liver function before a patient starts taking Aubagio and periodically during treatment.
Also included in the Boxed Warning is an alert noting that, based on animal studies, the drug may cause fetal harm. For this reason, Aubagio is labeled as Pregnancy Category X, which means women of childbearing age must have a negative pregnancy test before starting the drug and use effective birth control during treatment.
Aubagio will be dispensed with a patient Medication Guide that provides important instructions on its use and drug safety information.
Aubagio is made by Bridgewater, N.J.-based Sanofi Aventis.