For patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a disease of the nervous system, treatment with long painful needles may soon be a thing of the past as shorter and thinner needle injections are making their way to India.
The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has given approval for the first pen form version of the most popular injection— interferon beta-1a (Avonex), which used to treat people suffering from MS.
The single-use pen injection, which is administered intra-muscularly, is expected to reduce pain and related anxiety among thousands of MS patients who depend on these injections for treatment.
It is akin to relief that was brought to people suffering from diabetes, with the introduction of pen-like insulin injections.
Doctors agree this will increase compliance in MS patients who otherwise may skip treatment due to fear of the needle.
“With Avonex pen, patient’s adherence to the drug will considerably improve. At the same time, the procedure being simple and painless will make the entire exercise much more convenient for the patient,” said Dr Mukul Verma, senior consultant, department of neurology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital.
This treatment form is one of the most prescribed treatments for relapsing forms of MS worldwide. Administered intramuscularly, it slows the progression of physical disability and reduces relapses.
“One of the major benefits of Avonex pen lies in the concept of ‘self-injection’, which will help the patient in getting rid of the fear of injection. The development from an injection to pen will not only prove beneficial for the patients but also for the healthcare industry as a whole. The earlier a patient takes up these therapies, lesser is his scope of suffering from any disability that may develop over time,” said Dr CS Aggarwal, consultant neurologist, Sir Gangaram Hospital.
MS is a severe auto-immune disorder caused by damage to the protective covering that surrounds nerve cells. MS affects more than 2,00,000 people in India, physically as well as psychologically.