Highlighted treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) available through TheSocialMedwork:
What is ALS?Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease or Motor Neurone Disease (MND), is a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles, the motor neurons. In ALS motor neurons degenerate or die, and stop sending messages to muscles. Unable to function, the muscles gradually weaken and eventually, the ability of the brain to start and control voluntary movement is lost. Gradually, all muscles under voluntary control are affected, and individuals lose their strength and the ability to move their arms, legs, and body. When muscles in the diaphragm and chest wall fail, the ability to breathe is lost and ventilatory support is needed .
What is the prognosis of ALS?Most people with ALS die from respiratory failure, usually within 3 to 5 years from the onset of symptoms . However, about 10 % of ALS patients survive for 10 or more years . A smaller group of about 5 % of those with ALS have been able to survive for 20 years or more .
Who gets ALS?ALS is more common in the 40 to 70 year age group with a higher incidence in people aged over 50 .
"Among studies reporting this data, the mean ± standard deviation (SD) age for ALS disease onset was 61.8 ± 3.8 years (range 54–67); mean ± SD age for ALS diagnosis was 64.4 ± 2.9 years (range 58–68). The mean ± SD diagnostic delay was 12.6 ± 2.6 months (range 8.6–16.8)." Global Epidemiology of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
About 5 to 10 % of all ALS cases are familial (inherited) with the remaining 90 % sporadic. Although classified as a rare disease based on its prevalence, ALS in fact quite common. There are approximately 140,000 new cases diagnosed worldwide each year .
How is ALS treated?
There is unfortunately no cure yet for ALS but as the reputable medical centre Mayo Clinic state:
"Treatments can't reverse the damage of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, but they can slow the progression of symptoms, prevent complications and make you more comfortable and independent." Mayo Clinic
Treatments are designed to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for individuals. This supportive care is best provided by multidisciplinary teams of healthcare professionals such as physicians; pharmacists; physical, occupational, and speech therapists; nutritionists; and social workers and home care and hospice nurses, who can design an individualised plan of medical and physical therapy and provide special equipment aimed at keeping patients as mobile and comfortable as possible .
Which medicines are available for ALS?Two medications are currently approved by major regulatory bodies like the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of ALS:
- Edaravone (Radicut/Radicava) — This medication has been approved under the name Radicava by the FDA in May 2017 and under the name Radicut by the Japanese Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA) in June 2015 for treatment of ALS, with clinical results showing that in some patients it reduced the decline in daily functioning abilities. The drug is given via intravenous infusion (typically 10-14 days in a row, once a month), and side effects may include bruising, gait disturbance, hives, swelling and shortness of breath.
- Riluzole — This was the first ever drug approved to treat ALS and appears to slow the disease's progression in some people. Riluzole is taken as a pill and may cause side effects such as dizziness, gastrointestinal conditions and decreased lung function . Please note: Although not listed on our website, TheSocialMedwork can make this medicine available to patients that cannot access it.
Potential new treatments for ALS
New studies and research on promising medications occurs all of the time, and when a new medication is approved by a major regulatory authority, TheSocialMedwork will make it available to patients globally.
Most treatments for ALS involve managing the symptoms of the disease as it worsens, however there are other actions that can help patients, such as: physical therapy, to keep your muscles stronger for longer, aquatherapy, to ease muscle spasms, and special diets, useful when actions like swallowing become affected .
The above products may be suitable for treating patients with ALS. We recommend that you discuss the suitability of possible treatment options with your doctor. For further information please contact our support team at firstname.lastname@example.org