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Biogen gets US approval for user-friendly MS drug

WASHINGTON (AP) — Drugmaker Biogen Idec said Tuesday that it received U.S. approval for an easier-to-use injection device for its multiple sclerosis drug Avonex.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the company's Avonex pen, which uses a smaller needle to reduce pain and anxiety when patients self-administer the drug. The FDA also approved a new dosing schedule for the drug intended to reduce flu-like symptoms often associated with the drug.

Biogen currently offers a program in which registered nurses visit Avonex patients and teach them to self-inject the original form of Avonex. The drug was approved in 1996.

In a separate announcement, Biogen said it submitted an FDA application for an experimental multiple sclerosis pill known as BG-12. The application consists of two company studies showing reduction in disease activity and favorable safety and tolerability, according to the Cambridge, Mass.-based company. Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the immune system in which the body attacks the brain and spinal cord.

Biogen also markets the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri with Elan Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Shares of Biogen Idec rose 28 cents to $116.68.

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