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Tysabri reports 10 more brain disease cases

Posted Feb 19 2011 12:00am

By Geoff Percival Saturday, February 19, 2011THE owners of  multiple sclerosis drug  Tysabri have reported a further 10 cases of the rare brain disease PML as a side-effect of using the treatment.
The latest monthly update on cases shows that eight of the cases — identified among Tysabri users in January — were in patients in Europe, with the other two in the US.

Tysabri is jointly owned by US pharmaceutical firm Biogen Idec and Ireland’s Elan. The Dublin-headquartered company doesn’t comment on PML numbers but is currently working on trials for a new blood test to determine the existence of the JC virus in MS sufferers.

The existence of the virus is viewed as being an indicator of PML (Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy). The blood test is likely to become commercially available later this year, with 15,000 people in the US having already taken part in the clinical trial format.

The new cases of PML bring to 95 the total number of Tysabri-users who have contracted the potentially fatal brain disease, with 20 having died from it. Of those 95 cases, 52 were in Europe, with the remainder in the US.

While slightly up on previous months, the rate of new cases is still well within the accepted risk ratio.

"The total of 10 new cases in the last month is substantially ahead of average case levels of four to five per month. One month doesn’t make a trend, but the data may be more closely observed in coming months as a result by physicians, regulators and investors alike," said Jack Gorman of Davy Stockbrokers.

 This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Saturday, February 19, 2011

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