FDA Approves First New ALS Drug in Over 22 Years

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The US Food and Drug Administration took a major step forward in the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, on Friday.

The FDA approved the first new drug for ALS sufferers in more than two decades, CNN reports. Radicava, also known as edaravone, was approved for use in the United States. The only other drug used for treatment of ALS is riluzole, which was approved in 1995. 

The drug was tested in Japan and those who used edaravone experienced a smaller decline in their level of daily functioning compared to those who received a placebo. The maker of the drug, MT Pharma, said edaravone slowed the decline of physical function by 33 percent.

MORE: FDA Slams Whole-Body Cryotherapy, Says Treatment Has Risks

"After learning about the use of edaravone to treat ALS in Japan, we rapidly engaged with the drug developer about filing a marketing application in the United States," Eric Bastings, the deputy director of the FDA's neurology products division, said in a statement. "This is the first new treatment approved by the FDA for ALS in many years, and we are pleased that people with ALS will now have an additional option."

ALS is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that helps muscles function.

The non-profit ALS Association is fully supportive of the FDA’s decision.

"We thank the FDA and MT Pharma for working together to expedite the approval of the first new ALS-specific treatment in decades," said ALS Association President Barbara Newhouse in a statement. "We hope (the) announcement signals the beginning of a new chapter in the fight against this terrible disease."

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Sarah Halper |

After graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications as well as Sports Management, Sarah Halper has put plenty of time and effort in perfecting her reporting skills. She is a true pop culture enthusiast at heart, which makes for a wide variety of knowledge. When she isn’t consuming timely news, you can find her enjoying her favorite sporting events and eating her way through Chicago.