ALS patients in Japan petition govt. to approve new drug that slows progression

A group of people in Japan suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, has petitioned the country's government to quickly approve a new drug that slows progression of the disease.

ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that gradually limits a patient's mobility. There is no known cure.

Japan's government has authorized two types of drugs that slow the progression of symptoms.

A new drug, called Relyvrio, had been approved in the United States and Canada by the end of September last year.

The group of ALS patients visited the health and welfare ministry in Tokyo on Wednesday.

They submitted to officials a petition signed by about 10,000 people urging the government to make more options for treatment available.

They want the government to make use of the emergency approval system applied for coronavirus vaccines.

They are also asking for progression-slowing drugs currently being tested in Japan to be made available for use, if interim assessment shows them to be safe and effective.

The head of Japan Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association Onda Satoshi, conveying his message online, said all progressive diseases are a battle against time. He said patients desperately waiting for a treatment drug are dying right at this moment.

He called for the special approval system to be utilized for patients with incurable diseases.