Healthwatch: Hope for MS Patients

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MS is a debilitating disease that attacks the central nervous system. The first MS patients began receiving Tysabri intravenously recently at Holy Family Clinic in Spokane, Wash.

John Mager was diagnosed with MS in 1987. For more than half that time he's been waiting for Tysabri.

"It used to be called Antigrin and I read about it 10 years ago when they're doing it on mice and the mice were doing really well," said Mager.

Last November when the drug was approved a full year early, John was pretty excited to try this thing and always hope this one might be the one that stops the disease."

"No drug is perfect for every patient, so the more choices we have and the more combinations of choices we have, the better off we are and the better off all these folks with MS are," said Kanter.

Kanter runs the MS clinic at Holy Family Hospital.

"We have patients who are really very, very excited about having a new drug and anything new that really makes an impact on MS is really exciting for all of us," Kanter said. "This drug is not a cure, but studies show it can lower the number of new lesions by 85-95 percent and reduce the relapse rate by 45-75 percent. That alone is a breakthrough.

Mager will receive the drug intravenously for an hour in his first full treatment and then come back once a month. Fourteen patients have already gotten their first treatment at Holy Family. Sixty have made appointments and Kanter said he expects that to double.