Would you rather inject yourself once a month or take a pill every day? Unless you're extremely needle-phobic, it's not an easy question to answer. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
The drug's efficacy looks pretty good. Patients taking once-monthly daclizumab had an annualized relapse rate 50% to 54% depending on the dose compared with patients taking a placebo. That's on par with BG-12 and certainly better than Teva Pharmaceuticals'
But the side-effect profile leaves something to be desired. Serious infections occurred in 2% of patients taking once-monthly daclizumab compared with 0% in placebo. That's not all that surprising, since the drug is designed to inhibit the immune system; Roche sells a version of daclizumab called Zenapax to treat organ-transplant patients.
The bigger worry might come from the 4% of patients whose liver enzyme levels were five times higher than normal, which is a good indicator that the drug might be damaging the liver. And since it's a monthly treatment, the drug will be in the system for quite awhile after doctors decide there's a problem.
Two patients taking once-monthly daclizumab died while in the study, although it wasn't clear the drug was the cause.
The mixed data is good enough for Biogen and its partner Abbott Labs
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