Sanofi has won US Food and Drug Administration approval for its multiple sclerosis medication Aubagio.

Clinical trials have demonstrated that, whilst the drug is less effective than rival medications, it has milder side effects and could be utilised by newly diagnosed patients.

The most common adverse events associated with Aubagio include alopecia, influenza and nausea.

The drug’s approval was based on efficacy data compiled from a Phase III trial that demonstrated that 14mg doses of the drug significantly reduced the annualised relapse rate and time to disability progression at two years over placebo, with the 7mg dose also reducing annualised relapse rate.

Marketing applications for Aubagio are currently under review by the European Medicines Agency and other regulatory authorities, however the drug is expected to launch on the US market within a few weeks.

The multiple sclerosis treatment market is highly lucrative, with JP Morgan analysts expecting it to grow to $14bn by 2015. Novartis’ Gilenya and Biogen Idec’s BG-12 are expected to dominate the market, and Datamonitor predicts that Aubagio could see Sanofi claim sales approaching $353m by 2020.

The Corinne Goldsmith Dickinson Center for Multiple Sclerosis medical director Dr Aaron E Miller said; "Many people living with MS struggle with the additional burden of injectable therapies administered daily to weekly. The FDA’s approval of Aubagio, a new oral treatment option, is an encouraging advancement for the MS community and may be a valuable treatment for people living with this often debilitating disease."

National MS Society chief research officer Dr Timothy Coetzee echoed Miller’s sentiments, adding;" With collaborative research underway around the world today, this is an extremely hopeful time for anyone who is diagnosed with MS."