Teriflunomide: a once-daily oral medication for the treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis

Clin Ther. 2015 Oct 1;37(10):2366-80. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2015.08.003. Epub 2015 Sep 11.


Purpose: The purpose was to summarize US prescribing information for teriflunomide in the treatment of patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (RMS), with reference to clinical efficacy and safety outcomes.

Methods: In September 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration granted approval for the use of teriflunomide, 14 mg and 7 mg once daily, to treat RMS on the basis of the results of a Phase II study and the Phase III TEMSO (Teriflunomide Multiple Sclerosis Oral) trial. After recent updates to the prescribing information (October 2014), key findings from these and 2 other Phase III clinical trials, TOWER (Teriflunomide Oral in People With Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis) and TOPIC (Oral Teriflunomide for Patients with a First Clinical Episode Suggestive of Multiple Sclerosis), and practical considerations for physicians are summarized.

Findings: Teriflunomide, 14 mg and 7 mg, significantly reduced mean number of unique active lesions on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI; P < 0.05 for both doses) in the Phase II study. In the TEMSO and TOWER studies, the 14-mg dose of teriflunomide significantly reduced annualized relapse rate (31% and 36% relative risk reduction compared with placebo, respectively; both P < 0.001) and risk of disability progression sustained for 12 weeks (hazard ratio vs placebo 0.70 and 0.69, respectively; both P < 0.05). The 7-mg dose significantly (P < 0.02) reduced annualized relapse rate in both studies, although the reduction in risk of disability progression was not statistically significant. Teriflunomide treatment was also associated with significant efficacy on MRI measures of disease activity in TEMSO; both doses significantly reduced total lesion volume and number of gadolinium-enhancing T1 lesions. TOPIC evaluated patients with a first clinical event consistent with acute demyelination and brain MRI lesions characteristic of multiple sclerosis. More patients were free of relapse in the teriflunomide 14-mg and 7-mg groups than in the placebo group (P < 0.05 for both comparisons). In safety data pooled from the 4 studies, adverse events occurring in ≥2% of patients and ≥2% higher than in the placebo group were headache, alanine aminotransferase increase, diarrhea, alopecia (hair thinning), nausea, paresthesia, arthralgia, neutropenia, and hypertension. Routine monitoring procedures before and on treatment are recommended to assess potential safety issues. Women of childbearing potential must use effective contraception and, in the event of pregnancy, undergo an accelerated elimination procedure to reduce plasma concentrations of teriflunomide.

Implications: Clinical evidence suggests that teriflunomide is an effective therapeutic choice for patients with RMS, both as an initial treatment and as an alternative for patients who may have experienced intolerance or inadequate response to a previous or current disease-modifying therapy.

Keywords: efficacy; multiple sclerosis; oral disease-modifying therapy; safety; teriflunomide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Crotonates / administration & dosage*
  • Crotonates / adverse effects
  • Disease Progression
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Headache / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Hydroxybutyrates
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / drug therapy*
  • Nausea / chemically induced
  • Nitriles
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Toluidines / administration & dosage*
  • Toluidines / adverse effects
  • United States


  • Crotonates
  • Hydroxybutyrates
  • Nitriles
  • Toluidines
  • teriflunomide