The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted approval June 18, 2013, to Apotex Corp., Glenmark Generics and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries to market generic versions of the prescription amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) drug riluzole.
Generic drugs are equivalent to brand-name drugs but typically are less expensive. This is because the manufacturers of generic drugs don't have to recover the costs associated with the initial development and testing of the drug.
Riluzole, which is believed to interfere with the nervous system chemical glutamate, is the only drug approved by the FDA to treat ALS and is associated with a modest increase in survival time. Its development was based in part on MDA-supported research on glutamate. Researchers believe that excessive signaling by glutamate, a central nervous system neurotransmitter, may play a role in neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS.
Sanofi received FDA approval to market riluzole under the brand name Rilutek in December 1995. The company's patent for the drug, which gave it exclusive marketing rights in the United States, expired June 18, 2013.
Rilutek currently is sold in the United States by Covis Pharmaceuticals, which acquired the rights to market the drug in April 2013.
In a June 19, 2013, press release, Glenmark Generics notes it will begin shipping sales of generic riluzole immediately. Apotex lists riluzole on its website as a "new product launched on June 19, 2013."Sun Pharmaceutical does not currently list the drug on its website.
|Note: Always consult with your physician before adding any new medications or supplements to your ALS treatment plan.|