Allegheny General Hospital Patient Among First in U.S. to Receive New Drug for Treatment of ALS

For an illness as relentless as ALS, it is a significant milestone to have a new treatment available…

An Allegheny General Hospital (AGH) patient will be among the first in the United States to receive a newly approved medication for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The patient, Rene Fogarty, will receive the intravenous therapy, RADICAVA™ (edaravone), this morning at the ALS Center at Allegheny Health Network – an ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which often leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 12,000-15,000 Americans have ALS.

RADICAVA was approved by the FDA in May as the first new treatment option in 22 years for adult patients diagnosed with ALS. According to Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma America, Inc., distributor of RADICAVA, approval was based on results of a six-month clinical trial in which the drug was shown to slow the decline in loss of physical function by 33 percent.

The only other treatment option that was available for ALS was approved by the FDA in 1995 after it had been shown to prolong the survival of patients taking the drug, called riluzole. According to Sandeep Rana, MD, Medical Director of the ALS Center at AHN, this treatment improves survival by three to six months on average.

“For an illness as relentless as ALS, it is a significant milestone to have a new treatment available which shows promise as an improvement upon what we currently have available to treat the disease. We are very hopeful that RADICAVA will help us to more effectively treat ALS and extend quality of life for our patients,” said Dr. Rana.

RADICAVA is an intravenous infusion administered with an initial treatment cycle of daily dosing for 14 days, followed by a 14-day drug-free period. Subsequent treatment cycles consist of dosing on 10 of 14 days, followed by 14 days drug-free.

Fogarty, who was recently diagnosed with ALS, will receive his treatment cycles at…

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