European Commission has approved Extavia (interferon beta-1b) for the treatment of early and relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) from Novartis that is planned to include both established treatments and innovative therapies for patients with MS

Extavia is the Novartis branded version of interferon beta-1b, a first-line disease-modifying therapy injected every other day for the treatment of MS. Interferon beta-1b has been available globally for more than 13 years and is supported by more than 700,000 patient-years of experience.

In the EU, Extavia is approved for patients with relapsing-remitting MS, the most common form of the disease involving relapses followed by complete or partial restoration of function, and for a steadily worsening form of the disease known as secondary progressive MS with relapses.

Extavia which contains  Betaferon/Betaseron, was earlier marketed by Bayer-Schering and was the first beta interferon treatment for MS. Novartis gained rights to its own branded version of this medicine in agreements with Bayer-Schering related to the acquisition of Chiron.

By the end of 2009, Novartis also plans to file for approval of the innovative oral therapy FTY720 (fingolimod). Results of an ongoing phase II study extension presented in April show sustained benefits in patients with relapsing MS after three years of treatment with FTY720. Data showed that 68-73 per cent of patients in the study remained free from relapses after three years' continuous treatment.