World MS Day: Novartis launches a new campaign to raise awareness of MS and the unique experiences of people living with the disease

Today Novartis is joining the global multiple sclerosis (MS) community in celebration of World MS Day by launching a new campaign and participating in initiatives that encourage information and experience exchange around MS. Novartis is committed to supporting the MS community through these initiatives, in addition to delivering and researching innovative treatments to help address the high unmet medical needs of people with MS at every stage of the disease.

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World MS Day was created by the Multiple Sclerosis International Foundation (MSIF) in 2009 to raise global awareness of MS and its impact on approximately 2.5 million people with MS around the world[1],[2]. This year’s World MS Day campaign focuses on young people; MS is normally diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40[3], but can also occur earlier in life. This diagnosis can be devastating at a time when young people may be starting careers and making plans for the future.

„Novartis proudly supports World MS Day, and we recognize and support the importance of creating dialogue amongst people with MS and the wider community to help create an environment of understanding,“ said David Epstein, Head of the Pharmaceuticals Division of Novartis Pharma AG. „As a leader in the field of MS, we are not only committed to hosting initiatives that foster this dialogue exchange, but also to ensuring that people with MS have the appropriate care and support to manage their disease.“

MS and:Our Story

Novartis is proud to introduce MS and:Our Story, an interactive online campaign launched today which aims to capture the inspiring real-life stories of the MS community to increase awareness of MS and the unique experiences of those living with the disease. The campaign consists of a series of four animated films that chronicle the lives of people with MS and those who help care for them. The films are hosted on a dedicated website, www.msandourstory.com, and can also be accessed through links on Twitter and Facebook.

From now until the end of August, the global MS community will also have the opportunity to submit their personal story on www.msandourstory.com for the chance to have it produced into an animated video featured on the website. More information about the campaign, including how to submit MS stories and key timings, can be accessed at www.msandourstory.com.

Novartis initiatives to support World MS Day

Social Media Engagement: The Novartis Pinterest page is also launched today. Images and videos of interest to the MS community will be posted regularly and can be accessed via http://pinterest.com/novartis/. This Pinterest page adds to the ongoing dialogue on Twitter and Facebook pages: http://twitter.com/Novartis and http://www.facebook.com/novartis.
2nd International MS Patient Summit: On May 17, 2013, Novartis hosted the 2nd International MS Patient Summit in Dublin on ‚Young People with MS: Staying Active and Interactive‘ in partnership with MS Ireland. Leading MS patient organizations and advocates and bloggers met in advance of World MS Day to discuss topics of particular relevance to young people with MS.

Novartis Group company offices around the globe are also conducting activities in support of World MS Day, including Brazil, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the UK and USA. Initiatives range from raising MS awareness through surveys and public events, to developing patient support materials and partnering with patient associations, physicians and parliamentarians to highlight the challenges people with MS face when trying to access specialists and treatments.

Novartis‘ Research Commitment to MS

Novartis is leading the way in delivering and researching ground-breaking therapies to help address the high unmet medical need in MS.

Marketed products

Extavia® (interferon beta 1b for subcutaneous injections) is approved to treat people with relapsing forms of MS, secondary progressive MS with active disease and people who have had a single clinical event suggestive of MS[4].

Gilenya® (fingolimod), the first oral therapy approved to treat relapsing forms of MS is the first in a new class of compounds called sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor modulators[5],[6]. Gilenya is also being investigated for the treatment of primary progressive MS.
Investigational Medicines

In addition to these marketed products, the Novartis portfolio includes investigational compounds BAF312 (siponimod), a second generation S1P modulator for patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis currently being studied in a Phase III trial; and AIN457 (secukinumab), a fully human monoclonal antibody inhibiting interleukin-17A (IL-17A) with a Phase IIb trial for patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis due to start in June 2013.
About Multiple Sclerosis

While its exact cause is unknown, multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (CNS) that causes the body to turn against itself by mistaking normal cells for foreign cells[7]. In MS, the immune system attacks the fatty layer that surrounds and protects nerve fibers, called myelin[8]. This activity damages the myelin and strips it off the nerve fibers[8], causing a range of physical and mental problems including loss of muscle control and strength, vision, balance, sensation and mental function[9]. Up to 2.5 million people worldwide are affected by MS[2], most often in younger people between the ages of 20 and 40[3].

About Novartis

Novartis provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, eye care, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines and diagnostic tools, over-the-counter and animal health products. Novartis is the only global company with leading positions in these areas. In 2012, the Group achieved net sales of USD 56.7 billion, while R&D throughout the Group amounted to approximately USD 9.3 billion (USD 9.1 billion excluding impairment and amortization charges). Novartis Group companies employ approximately 129,000 full-time-equivalent associates and operate in more than 140 countries around the world. For more information, please visit http://www.novartis.com.

Novartis is on Twitter. Sign up to follow @Novartis at http://twitter.com/novartis.

References:

[1] http://www.worldmsday.org/wordpress/about-world-ms-day/. Accessed April 2013
[2] Multiple Sclerosis International Federation. Atlas of MS [online]. Available at: www.atlasofms.org. Accessed April 2013

[3] http://emsp.org/multiple-sclerosis/ms-fact-sheet. Accessed April 2013

[4] Extavia SmPC http://www.ema.europa.eu/docs/en_GB/document_library/EPAR_-_Product_Information/human/000933/WC500034701.pdf. Accessed May 2013

[5] Brinkmann V. FTY720 (fingolimod) in multiple sclerosis: therapeutic effects in the immune and the central nervous system. Br J Pharmacol 2009;158(5):1173-1182.
[6] Chun J, Hartung HP. Mechanism of Action of Oral Fingolimod (FTY720) in Multiple Sclerosis. Clin Neuropharmacol. 2010 March-April;33(2):91-101.
[7] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001747/. Accessed April 2013
[8] http://www.mssociety.org.uk/what-is-ms/information-about-ms/about-ms. Accessed April 2013

[9] http://www.nationalmssociety.org/about-multiple-sclerosis/what-we-know-about-ms/symptoms/index.aspx. Accessed April 2013

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