FDA says no to experimental treatment for multiple sclerosis

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2012-05-11 12:31

On May 10, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an alert advising against an experimental treatment procedure for multiple sclerosis (MS), which has been termed "liberation therapy" or the "liberation procedure."

The FDA notes that the procedure has been linked to serious complications, including stroke and death. The procedure is based on the premise of chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI), which is described by a stenosis (narrowing) of veins in the neck and chest. Some scientists contend that CCSVI may either cause multiple sclerosis or accelerate progression of the disease. The FDA contends that studies attempting to show a relationship between CCSVI and MS are inconclusive.

The procedure involves inserting a balloon or stent to dilate narrowed vessels in the chest and neck. Although, the procedure may increase blood flow to the brain, the FDA notes that the medical literature contains reports of cases of stroke, death, detachment and migration of the stents, damage to the treated vein, blood clots, cranial nerve damage, and abdominal bleeding associated with the procedure. The FDA notes that it has not approved either balloon angioplasty devices or stents for use in treating CCSVI. “Because there is no reliable evidence from controlled clinical trials that this procedure is effective in treating MS, FDA encourages rigorously-conducted, properly-targeted research to evaluate the relationship between CCSVI and MS,” noted William Maisel, MD, MPH., chief scientist and deputy director for science in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “He added, “Patients are encouraged to discuss the potential risks and benefits of this procedure with a neurologist or other physician who is familiar with MS and CCSVI, including the CCSVI procedures and their outcomes.”

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