The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has restricted the use of multiple sclerosis drug Zinbryta. The agency took action after a patient died from liver injury (fulminant liver failure). The patient was in an ongoing observational study. Four cases of serious liver injury have also been reported.
We are all likely to experience some side effect of any medication we take, whether for multiple sclerosis or some other disease. Most of us, hopefully, will only have minor problems, if any, but some will be badly affected.
All medicine manufacturers provide a list of their drugs’ side effects, from major to minor, from common to rare. Pharmaceutical companies provide this information for the benefit of patients, not just healthcare professionals.
And, we need to take those lists seriously. After all, it is our health that is on the line.
I always pay close attention to news of new drugs approved for use in the treatment of MS. But, no matter how good the claimed benefits appear, I focus on the possible side effects admitted by the manufacturer.
Now, that is not to say that all disease modifying therapies (DMTs) are bad for us. But we need to balance benefits against the disadvantaged of possible side effects. Everyone must make their own decision.
Such decisions are personal. I have never accepted any DMT.
Zinbryta – liver damage risk known when approved
Zinbryta (daclizumab) is one such DMT and its side effects include the risk of liver damage. The EU knew this when it approved the drug in July 2016. In fact, it put several measures in place to manage this risk. These included the requirement to monitor liver function and provide educational materials to healthcare professionals and patients on the risk of liver damage.
Now, though, a year later, the EMA has provisionally restricted the use of the medicine to:
- patients with highly active relapsing remitting MS (RRMS) that has failed to respond to certain other treatment, and
- patients with rapidly evolving relapsing MS who cannot be treated with other medicines.
In addition, doctors must not give the medicine must to patients with liver injury.
It is not recommended for patients with autoimmune conditions other than MS. Medical professionals should be cautious when the give Zinbryta together with medicines that can damage the liver. Doctors are advised to monitor the liver function of patients to whom they give the medicine. They should closely watch patients for signs and symptoms of liver injury.
The EMA’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) has issued these provisional recommendations as a precaution and to ensure that Zinbryta continues to be used as safely as possible while a review of its liver safety is ongoing.
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50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Features Writer with Medical News Today. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.