New Pill Could Treat MS Without Causing Unbearable Stomach Problems

Multiple sclerosis patients who have been forced to stop taking essential medications because of the excruciating stomach problems it causes are being offered a new breed of pills designed to reduce severe reactions.

The medication, taken twice a day, works just as well as previous drugs that have revolutionized the treatment of the autoimmune disease — collectively known as disease-modifying therapies — but without the uncomfortable side effects that many suffer from.

Now, with approval from Britain’s drug watchdog, doctors hope the pill, diroximel fumarate – brand name Vumerity – could give more patients the chance to get their condition under control.

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

‘For many patients, it can simply become too much. Any new options that would allow them to continue with the therapies would be welcome.”

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

One patient who could benefit from treatment is Harriet Betts (pictured), 33, of Southampton, who was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS four years ago after suffering partial vision loss.

What is the difference between strep throat and tonsillitis?

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

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

It can be caused by a viral infection, in which case painkillers and rest are the best treatment, but it can also be caused by a bacterial infection, in which case antibiotics may be given if it doesn’t clear up.

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that causes the throat to feel very sore and scratchy and always requires antibiotic treatment.

If left untreated, it can cause complications such as kidney inflammation and rheumatic fever, as well as painful inflammation of the joints.

If a sore throat lasts more than 48 hours and is accompanied by a large rash covering most of the body (known as scarlet fever), patients should contact their doctor.

This leads to symptoms such as poor mobility and numbness in the extremities, as well as psychological problems.

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

During a relapse, symptoms can be so severe that it is nearly impossible to perform everyday tasks.

In the past 20 years, drugs have become available that can reduce the number of recurrences.

These disease-modifying therapies, such as Tecfidera, used routinely by the NHS, can reduce relapses by about 50 percent, according to studies.

However, side effects are common, with many patients experiencing stomach cramps, diarrhea and nausea.

dr. Duddy said, “If patients come off Tecfidera or other disease-modifying therapies, they will usually have to take less effective drugs, meaning more relapses, or stronger drugs that carry a greater risk of complications.”

Vumerity contains the same active ingredient as Tecfidera to reduce inflammation and protect nerve cells from the damage that causes MS symptoms.

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

US studies have shown that patients taking Vumerity see a similar reduction in recurrences as those on Tecfidera, but develop significantly fewer stomach problems.

dr. Duddy said: ‘It seems that patients taking Vumerity tend to lead a more comfortable life.

“Of course they are not completely free of side effects – no drug is – but it seems that the stomach problems it causes are much easier to tolerate.

“That’s not to say everyone should get off Tecfidera, but it would be a valuable option for MS patients being treated on the NHS.”

Vumerity was approved for use in the UK by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency last month.

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

One patient who could benefit from treatment is Harriet Betts, 33, of Southampton, who was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS four years ago after suffering partial vision loss.

Harriet, who works at a tanning salon, was given Tecfidera, which led to a number of serious side effects, including painful sunburn-like skin eruptions and constipation.

US studies have shown that patients taking Vumerity see a similar reduction in recurrences as those on Tecfidera, but develop significantly fewer stomach problems

US studies have shown that patients taking Vumerity see a similar reduction in recurrences as those on Tecfidera, but develop significantly fewer stomach problems

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

She says a new treatment that could reduce side effects caused by disease-modifying therapies could help her and others.

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

“It’s something you learn to live with because you hope it will help your MS.

“The thought that patients like me can get something that doesn’t make you sick all the time is really positive.”

Intimate touch that makes women sad

Some women experience sudden feelings of sadness and despair when their nipples are touched.

The rare condition, sadnippel syndrome, was thought to be related to another condition, the dysphoric milk ejection reflex, in which breastfeeding women develop negative emotions just before the milk is released. However, recent reports suggest it can also happen to women who have never breastfed.

Consultant dermatologist Dr. Sreedhar Krishna says that when the nipple is stimulated, the feelings of sadness can be caused by a drop in the stimulant dopamine.

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