NewsSpeak: the aftermath of the negative ASCEND trial

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Bad news and Biogen’s share price rises: the perverse side of capitalism. #NewsSpeak #MSBlog


“In the aftermath of yesterday’s news of the negative ASCEND study, we have just been informed that Biogen are closing down their dimethyl fumarate (DMF) in SPMS trial. I think this is very premature as lessons learnt from the ASCEND study could have been applied to the DMF trial. I am now convinced that our length-dependent axonopathy and asynchronous progressive MS hypotheses are correct. We should let these inform our current and future trial designs, i.e. adapt them and not stop them from happening.”


“My heart goes out to all the SPMSers who will almost certainly be let down by this news. Don’t get too despondent we will continue to work on getting progressive trials off the ground. We are currently in the process of designing a proof-of-concept study of testing a combination treatment in people with progressive MS who are EDSS 6.5 and above. Yes, we will include wheelchair users. Our primary outcome will by design ignore lower limb function and focus on the arms and a bulbar function (swallowing and speech).”
“Our message to you if you have progressive MS is that we won’t give up on you!




“I note that Biogen have announced that they are pruning their workforce by 11% and are pulling the plug on several projects. I know many  brilliant people who work for Biogen; I hope they are okay. All in all the fall-out of the negative ASCEND trial is like a Tsunami. What I find sad is the simple announcement that there are to be job cuts at Biogen has resulted in their share price rising; this is capitalism at its worst! The heart of this story is bad news for SPMSers and for a lot of Biogen staff who were simply trying to make the lives of MSers better.”


CoI: multiple

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.

9 comments

  • The accountants triumph over the scientists once again. Terribly sad and you're right gavin, capitalism at its worst.

  • 'capitalism at its worst.', I have to agree.

    As a MSer who was on the ASCEND trial my bitterness is not the failure of Tysabri. I feel that there seems to be ittle sign of any drug that will flat line progress of SPMS. Am I right?

    Are the Pharmas thinking that by getting treatment right for RRMS no one will ever get SPMS – don't make me laugh.

    • A RRMS trial can be done in 6 months 1 year max to get a result if it may work, a 7 year trial for failure and we have a problem. Pharma has been burned so many times will they pick up the lit match again…however we are coming up to thanksgiving and I must say some companies have been selecting some turkeys…so much for the accountants enemy #1

  • Would you please consider writing a post just about different views regarding non-EDSS measures for PPMS or SPMS trials. What could shorten these trials? Bio markers? Techniques to measure spinal atrophy? What are the different ideas out there?

  • On the contrary, I think Biogen is a terrible company that lies about the safety data of its drug. Couldn't be happening to a better company IMHO, although I am sad for any SPMSers who really had hearts pinned on this.

  • Thankyou for positive words Dr G. Just been told officially ASCEND trial ended. Hope something good for SPMSers and others does come along soon.

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