CA Access News

March 2010

In this Issue: Features | Partner Spotlight | Calendar | Welcome New Partners | In the News | Interesting Information | Contact Us


Oral Therapies: New Medicines in Development to Improve Patient Lives

By Stewart Ferry, Public Policy Director
National Multiple Sclerosis Society - Northern California Chapter

With today's technology and medical advancements, a new era of treatment is coming to those living with MS. Research has been well underway to bring MS patients oral treatments. Many of these new treatments are in the development process and a few may be available this year. Once these medicines become available they can dramatically improve the lives of people living with MS. The National MS Society is excited about the new possibilities these treatments will bring and continue to support the research behind these breakthrough medicines.

Below are some of the treatments that are currently being researched and developed:

Ampyra™: (dalfampridine, formerly known as fampridine SR, from Acorda Therapeutics), which was approved by the U.S. FDA in January 2010 for its ability to improve walking in people with any type of MS, is now available by prescription. This is the first therapy specifically approved to treat a symptom of MS, and it represents a big step forward for the many people who may benefit.

Fampridine-SR: The first oral medication specifically developed for MS symptoms, could be available this spring. The FDA is expected to make a final decision about the drug, which improves walking in people with all kinds of MS, on or before January 22.

Cladribine: an oral disease-modifying therapy for relapsing forms of MS, is also applying for marketing approval. A potent chemotherapy drug, Cladribine kills immune T cells and B cells, both of which are thought to be involved in immune attacks in MS.

Fingolimod (or FTY720): an immunosuppressant, keeps harmful immune cells out of the brain and spinal cord where they can cause the damage seen in MS. Minocycline: an antibiotic in pill form, is currently being studied in a phase III clinical trial--the last step before submission to the FDA for approval--but the study won't be completed until at least late 2015. FDA approval could take as long as six months to a year after that.

For even more information about the oral MS drugs--including clinical trials that are currently recruiting participants--visit and type the name of a drug into the search field.

Partner Spotlight

National Multiple Sclerosis Society - Northern California Chapter

To mobilize people and resources to drive research for a cure and address the challenges of everyone affected by MS.

The Northern California chapter provides vital programs and services to more than 20,000 people living with multiple sclerosis in Northern California, and fund critical research projects to help develop better treatments and find a cure.

Web site


Save the Date!
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
"Managing Heart Health and Stress in an Uncertain Economy"
CSAC Conference Center
1020 11th Street, 2nd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
For more information, please contact Charlotte Phillips at (916) 658-0144 or

Save the Date!
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
"Managing Heart Health and Stress in an Uncertain Economy"
Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish
Parish Community Hall
1100 South Center Street
Santa Ana, CA 92704
For more information, please contact Arlen Valdivia at (323) 466-3445 or

Check out our CPAT partner events occurring this month!

Would you like to see your organization's event listed? Contact Charlotte Phillips at to help advertise your upcoming event.

Welcome New Partners

Join Now


In the News


Controversial Approach to Treating MS
KGO-TV ABC 7, San Francisco, February 10, 2010
There's a radical new theory developing on the cause of multiple sclerosis. MS has long been considered an auto-immune disorder, in which the body attacks itself. But new research points to a vascular problem and early studies show it might be stopped or even reversed through surgery. It is generating excitement and words of caution from doctors who say the science doesn't yet back it up.

Fargo Reflects on Life Since Sacramento Mayor Job
Sacramento Bee, February 23, 2010
Heather Fargo did not have the luxury of easing reflectively into life as a private citizen. Just a few weeks after she packed her office at City Hall in November 2008, ending nearly two decades of service as a councilwoman and mayor, Fargo learned she had breast cancer. Fargo also rigorously researches and manages her multiple sclerosis, a nerve disorder diagnosed more than a decade ago but one that she made public only in 2007, when her symptoms became too difficult to hide.

Squaw Valley USA to Host 2010 Vertical Express for Multiple Sclerosis
Truckee Sierra Sun, March 3, 2010
For the past two decades a dedicated group of enthusiastic skiers have gathered at Squaw Valley USA each winter to ski, spend a weekend with friends and raise money for The Heuga Center (now re-named The Can Do MS Center). The 2010 Vertical Express for Multiple Sclerosis (MS), presented by The Alger Family of Funds, EMD Serono, Inc./Pfizer Inc and Rolex Watch USA, hits the slopes of Squaw Valley USA March 6-7, challenging skiers and riders of all ages and abilities. Proceeds benefit Can Do Multiple Sclerosis, a national nonprofit organization and innovative provider of lifestyle empowerment programs that empower people with MS and their support partners to transform and improve their quality of life.

RSM to Raise Awareness About Multiple Sclerosis
Orange County Register, February 26, 2010
Rancho Santa Margarita is officially supporting Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week, set for March 8-14. Mayor Jerry Holloway presented Leslie Brecheen -- a member of the National Multiple Sclerosis Pacific South Coast Chapter -- with a proclamation formally recognizing the week. More information is expected to be posted on the city's website at

Would you like to share your news story? Contact Charlotte Phillips at and your organization's news story can be featured in our next edition of CA Access News.

Interesting Information

Just the Facts

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, unpredictable disease of the central nervous system (the brain, optic nerves and spinal cord). It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder, meaning the immune system incorrectly attacks the person's healthy tissue.

MS can cause blurred vision, loss of balance, poor coordination, slurred speech, tremors, numbness, extreme fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, paralysis, blindness and more. These problems may be permanent or may come and go.

Below are facts and figures regarding MS.

  • Approximately 400,000 Americans have MS, and every hour someone is newly diagnosed. Worldwide, MS affects about 2.1 million people.
  • Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, although individuals as young as 2 and as old as 75 have developed it.
  • Women have been diagnosed with MS at least two to three times more than men.
  • MS occurs in most ethnic groups, including African-Americans, Asians and Hispanics/Latinos, but is more common in Caucasians of northern European ancestry.
  • In rare cases MS is so malignantly progressive it is terminal, but most people with MS have a normal or near-normal life expectancy. Severe MS can shorten life.
  • Two-thirds of people who have MS remain able to walk, though many will need an aid, such as a cane or crutches, and some will use a scooter or wheelchair because of fatigue, weakness, balance problems, or to assist with conserving energy.
  • MS is not contagious and is not directly inherited. Studies do indicate that genetic factors may make certain individuals susceptible to the disease.
  • There are now FDA-approved medications that have been shown to "modify" or slow down the underlying course of MS. Advances in treating and understanding
  • Advances in treating and understanding MS are made every year, and progress in research to find a cure is very encouraging.

For more information, please download the Just the Facts Brochure.



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