Dubai: A breakthrough medicine — the first one short-course treatment to help patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis is now available in the UAE. The Ministry of Health and Prevention announced the availability of MAVENCLAD® manufactured by the pharmaceutical company, Merck, on the occasion of the inauguration of its new regional hub in the UAE.

MAVENCLAD® is a medicine used to treat Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in adults. The new treatment is characterised by 20 days of treatment over two years with sustained efficacy of up to four years. In this context, Dr Ameen Al Amiri, assistant undersecretary for public health policy and licensing sector at the ministry, highlighted the wise leadership’s commitment to support excellence in the health care sector in general which made the Ministry of Health and Prevention pay great attention to Multiple Sclerosis in particular and to patients living with this disease. Multiple Sclerosis is one of the most common neurological disorders in the world. It affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide usually between the ages of 20 and 40, which translates to an average of 30 per 100,000 people, according to the World Health Organisation. There are different types of MS, the most common being Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis, in which patients experience flare-ups or relapses in between periods of recovery.

Due to the drug’s novel mechanism of action, MAVENCLAD® (Cladribine tablets) selectively reconstitutes the immune system with minimal impact on the innate immune system functions, making it the only oral short-course therapy to provide up to four years of disease control with a maximum of 20 days of treatment over the first two years.

Dr Al Amiri added: “The UAE is the first country in the region (Middle East & Africa) and the fifth globally to approve the registration of this new therapy, which is a direct outcome of the successful implementation of the Ministerial Decree (28) of year 2018 concerning the registration of breakthrough medicines and orphan drugs by the health ministry that aims at making the latest advances and best quality of health care services and medications available within the country”.

Paolo Carli, head of Merck for Middle East, Africa and Turkey, said: “It is Merck’s continuous ambition to develop breakthrough therapies for patients with significant unmet medical need. Together with its partners, Merck relentlessly works to ensure that people can access the medicines they need”.

Yasser Tawfik, General Manager for Merck in the GCC said: “We are thrilled that the Ministry of Health and Prevention has reached this decision which has enabled rapid patient access to this new medication in the UAE”. He added: “Patients will need to take the medication for only 20 days over two years, which is basically 10 treatment days each year, which eases the treatment phase burden. Since the medication is an innovatively simple pill and because the drug has the lowest monitoring burden among high efficacy treatments, patients don’t need to go to the hospital to take their dose, or frequently visit laboratories for monitoring, which also significantly reduces costs for patients, hospitals and health insurance companies. This breakthrough treatment is the closest solution to life without MS.”