Novantrone as Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis - dummies

Novantrone as Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis

By Rosalind Kalb, Barbara Giesser, Kathleen Costello

The FDA approved Novantrone to treat people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) that’s rapidly getting worse, as well as people with progressive-relapsing or secondary-progressive MS. Novatrone (mitoxantrone) is an immunosuppressant medication, which means that it completely shuts down the body’s immune system for a period of time. Like other medications of this type, it has primarily been used to treat certain types of cancer.

This medication appears to work by suppressing the activity of the cells that lead the attack on myelin in the CNS. In the clinical trial leading to its approval, Novantrone was found to delay the onset of the first relapse requiring treatment with corticosteroids and to delay the time to increased disability.

It also was shown to reduce the number of relapses requiring treatment and the number of new lesions seen on MRI scans. This medication is given by intravenous infusion every three months.

Novantrone can cause damage to the heart, even after a person stops taking it, so it’s only recommended for those people whose heart function is completely normal.

In order to minimize this cardiac risk, your doctor evaluates the health of your heart with an echocardiogram or a multiple-gated acquisition (MUGA) scan before prescribing this medication to you, prior to each quarterly dose of the medication, and periodically after you stop taking the medication. Here’s the lowdown on these tests of cardiac function:

  • An echocardiogram is a noninvasive test that uses sound waves to evaluate heart function.

  • The MUGA scan is a different kind of noninvasive test that evaluates the health of the heart wall and the ventricles (the heart’s pumping stations).

As an added measure, the use of Novantrone is limited to a maximum of 8 to 12 doses over a period of two to three years.

Novantrone also carries with it an increased risk for secondary acute myelogenous leukemia. However, this condition has occurred more commonly in people who have been treated previously with another immunosuppressant or who have been using Novantrone in combination with other chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

For more information about Novantrone, call 888-275-7376. No website is available.