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Fampridine Boosts Mobility in Multiple Sclerosis

Randomized phase III trial shows investigational drug significantly improves walking ability

FRIDAY, Feb. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Fampridine, an investigational potassium-channel blocker, improves walking ability and reduces ambulatory disability in patients with multiple sclerosis, according to research published in the Feb. 28 issue of The Lancet.

Andrew D. Goodman, M.D., of the University of Rochester in New York, and colleagues conducted a multicenter, double-blind, phase III trial in which 301 patients with multiple sclerosis were randomized to receive either fampridine or placebo. Response was defined with a timed 25-foot walk, which was validated using the multiple sclerosis walking scale.

The response in the timed walk trial was significantly higher among patients in the fampridine group than those in the placebo group (35 percent versus 8 percent). Further, fampridine-treated patients who responded in the timed walk exhibited greater improvement in walking speed than those in the placebo group who responded in the walk (25.2 percent versus 4.7 percent); this response was maintained over the 14-week treatment period. Five percent of patients in the fampridine arm withdrew from the study because of adverse events.

"These results with fampridine in multiple sclerosis are intriguing, both because they show improvement in ambulation and because the patient's perspective on walking is used to validate the primary outcome," the authors of an accompanying comment write. "Better understanding of the treatment profile, in terms of the full functional treatment effect and identification of those most likely to respond, is needed to allow for effective implementation in treatment regimens for multiple sclerosis."

This study was funded by Acorda Therapeutics, the manufacturer of fampridine. Several of the study authors report financial relationships or employment with Acorda Therapeutics.

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