Two trials have shown positive results for an oral treatment developed by Novartis for multiple sclerosis (MS).

Results of the TRANSFORMS(1) and FREEDOMS(2) Phase III clinical trials with the oral drug FTY720 (fingolimod) have been published in The New England Journal of Medicine and show a reduced risk of confirmed disability progression.

The trials involved more than 1,000 people across 18 countries.

US National Multiple Sclerosis Society managing director and executive vice-president of research and clinical programmes John Richert said innovative science leading to new medicines for MS patients is badly needed.

“The positive results published in The New England Journal of Medicine showing the benefit of fingolimod on the clinical and MRI outcomes assessed is very encouraging for MS patients, their families and their physicians,” Richert said.

Up to 2.5 million people worldwide are affected by MS, an inflammatory and neurodegenerative condition that often begins when patients are in the prime of their lives.