The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted approval for Elan‘s Ampyra, the first drug specifically available to improve the ability to walk for patients suffering with multiple sclerosis (MS).

About 400,000 people in the US and 2.5 million people worldwide are suspected to have MS, a chronic, often disabling disease that affects the central nervous system.

In clinical trials, patients treated with Ampyra have been shown to have faster walking speeds than those treated with a placebo.

FDA Centre for Drug Evaluation and Research director of the Division of Neurology Products Russell Katz said that trouble with walking is one of the most debilitating problems people with MS face.

Ampyra is manufactured under licenses from Elan of Dublin, Ireland, and distributed by Acorda Therapeutics of Hawthorne, NY.