NEW ORLEANS—Laquinimod, an oral, CNS-active therapy for multiple sclerosis (MS), significantly slows disability progression and brain atrophy, compared with placebo, according to research presented at the 64th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. The drug’s safety profile suggests that “it may have an important role in the long-term management of MS,” said Timothy Vollmer, MD, Professor of Neurology and Director of Clinical Research at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora.
Laquinimod reduced the probability of three-month sustained disability by 34% with a hazard ratio of 0.658 and a highly significant P value. “From an exploratory standpoint, if you extend this definition to a six-month sustained disability progression, you get an even larger effect of 46%, again with a significant P value and a hazard ratio of 0.54,” said Dr. Vollmer.
After 24 months, laquinimod reduced the rate of cerebral atrophy by 30%, compared with placebo. “This effect was actually visible at month 12 and was already statistically significant,” observed Dr. Vollmer.
“This effect on disability seems somewhat out of proportion to what we would expect, based on the reduction of the inflammatory phase of the disease,” he continued. After 24 months, patients on laquinimod had a 21% lower annualized relapse rate than patients on placebo. At months 12 and 24, the researchers observed a 30% reduction in the number of gadolinium-enhancing lesions and a 24% reduction in new T2 lesions. These three results were highly statistically significant, but their effects were “modest,” said Dr. Vollmer.