More MS news articles for September 2000

AVONEX(R) (Interferon beta-1a) Is First Drug to Show an Effect on Primary Progressive MS, One of the Most Aggressive Forms of the Disease

Monday September 11, 8:50 am Eastern Time
Press Release
SOURCE: Biogen, Inc.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Sept. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Biogen, Inc. (Nasdaq: BGEN - news) today announced that AVONEX® (Interferon beta-1a), the world's leading treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS), has shown potential to affect one of the most aggressive forms of the disease. In the first study to show disease modification in primary progressive MS (PPMS), considered to be a particularly serious and currently untreatable type of MS, patients receiving a weekly intramuscular injection of AVONEX, 30 mcg, showed a significant reduction in the size of brain lesions seen on MRI, a measure of the extent of damage the disease has caused to the brain. Data from the pilot study were presented this weekend at the 16th annual ECTRIMS (European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis) congress in Toulouse, France, by investigators from the National Hospital of Neurology at Queen Square, London.

MS is a chronic, inflammatory disease of the central nervous system. Most patients incur disability over time. MS affects approximately one million people worldwide. PPMS is a relentlessly degenerative form of the disease that progresses continually from onset without remission. PPMS is most often diagnosed in people who are older than the average MS patient.

The study is the first randomized, controlled clinical trial of a disease- modifying agent in people with PPMS. PPMS is thought to affect about 10 percent of the total MS population throughout the world.

Burt A. Adelman, M.D., Biogen's Vice President of Medical Research, said, "We are pleased to learn about the potential of AVONEX in treating this patient population, which has a particularly devastating form of MS. In all clinical trials to date, AVONEX has demonstrated proven results and excellent efficacy in the treatment of relapsing forms of MS. These results follow those of the pivotal CHAMPS trial, which showed a significant positive impact of AVONEX on patients at high risk of developing clinically definite MS. These results reinforce our belief that there is opportunity for market growth in an expanding patient population."

Alan Thompson, Professor of Clinical Neurology & Neuro Rehabilitation at the Institute of Neurology, University College London, said, "Given the aggressive form of the disease, we are encouraged to see that AVONEX was safe and well tolerated by these PPMS patients. In light of the small size of the study, we were also pleasantly surprised to have seen some effect on an MRI parameter."

The two-year study included 50 men and women between the ages of 29 and 59 who had PPMS for between two and 21 years. Patients were randomized to receive one of two doses of AVONEX or placebo intramuscularly once a week. The standard dose of AVONEX, 30 mcg IM, showed the best response.

AVONEX is the world's leading treatment for MS and its efficacy is unsurpassed. It was launched in the U.S. in 1996 and in Europe in 1997 for the treatment of relapsing forms of MS to slow the accumulation of physical disability and to decrease the frequency of clinical exacerbations. More than 90,000 patients worldwide are now on AVONEX therapy. AVONEX is marketed internationally in more than 60 countries.

Biogen, Inc., winner of the U.S. National Medal of Technology, is a biopharmaceutical company principally engaged in discovering and developing drugs for human healthcare through genetic engineering. Headquartered in Cambridge, MA, the Company's revenues are generated from worldwide sales of AVONEX® (Interferon beta-1a) for treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis, and from the worldwide sales by licensees of a number of products, including alpha interferon and hepatitis B vaccines and diagnostic products. Biogen's research and development activities are focused on novel products for multiple sclerosis, inflammatory, respiratory, kidney and cardiovascular diseases and in developmental biology and gene therapy. For copies of press releases and additional information about the Company, please consult Biogen's Homepage on the World Wide Web at

SOURCE: Biogen, Inc.