FDA approves Relyvrio, the first new ALS drug in five years. Patients had wanted it sooner.

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Bruce Rosenblum, an ALS patient and advocate, sits in his wheelchair.

SOMERVILLE, Mass. — Bruce Rosenblum knows the drug Relyvrio won’t save his life. It might not even make a difference.

But after using a make-your-own version for months, he stopped being able to get it early this summer and he’s eager to start up again.

Late Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Relyvrio to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as ALS. Rosenblum said he’s thrilled by the decision and immediately requested a prescription for it.

Early trial data suggests the drug is particularly helpful early in the fatal disease that gradually robs people of their ability to control their movement, eventually including breathing.

Rosenblum and others with ALS don’t have a lot of other options.

There are only five other drugs approved to treat ALS, the most recent in 2017, but none has been shown to stop the inexorable loss of muscle control. Only one has been shown in some people to extend life, but by just three months on average.

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