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    Asthma Drug Albuterol May Help Treat MS

    Study Shows Albuterol Has Potential to Help MS Patients When Added to Other Treatments

    Albuterol for MS continued...

    Thirty-nine patients were included in the final analysis. Improvement in functional status was seen in the combined treatment group at six months and a year, but not at two years. Most of the improvement was related to walking and was measured by timing how long it took a patient to walk 25 feet.

    Published online today, the study appears in the September issue of the Archives of Neurology.

    Treatment with albuterol is generally not recommended for some patients taking beta-blockers or for those with heart palpitations or anxiety, Khoury says.

    She adds that MS patients without these contraindications may benefit from taking the drug with disease-modifying therapy during the first year of treatment.

    Second Opinion

    National MS Society spokesman Nicholas LaRocca, PhD, says larger studies are needed to confirm the findings.

    "This is a promising study, but it was small," he tells WebMD. "I think it would be premature to recommend adding this to treatment based on one study."

    But Khoury says since albuterol is now generic, its manufacturers have little financial incentive to conduct additional research.

    As researchers search for new and better MS treatments, LaRocca says taking a closer look at drugs that are already available makes sense.

    "The cost of developing new drugs is astronomical," he says. "If there are drugs already out there that are not overly expensive and can be used with the currently available treatments, that is certainly worth exploring."

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