2 posts tagged “Riluzole”

Leaving a Legacy of Data at PatientsLikeMe

Posted October 30th, 2012 by

ALS member Persevering in front of the US Capitol, where he was participating in ALS Advocacy Day 2011.Recently, our ALS community mourned the loss of Persevering, a highly proactive three-star member who was known for his unfailing efforts to support fellow patients, record and share data, report website problems and recruit ALS clinical trial participants.  Offline, he was also a tireless advocate for ALS awareness and research, attending conferences and lobbying on Capitol Hill.  Persevering passed away on September 10, 2012, at the age of 42, and is deeply missed by both our members and our staff.

While we are unable to recognize every member who passes away on our blog, we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight how our community responds to loss as well share what happens to a deceased patient’s profile data.  When our community managers are notified of a member’s death – typically by a family member, caregiver or another member who was close to the person – they add the date of death to the member’s profile. This automatically updates their icon nugget with a black band to show that the member has passed away. (See image below.)

Persevering’s icon nugget – with the black band representing that he’s no longer with us after his three-year battle with ALS.

Also, our members often create a forum thread about the member, to which the tag “In Memory” is added by other members or the community manager so that it is searchable and “followable” using this tag. In these emotional threads, members acknowledge the deceased member’s contributions, reflect on the loss to the community and pay their respects.  Essentially, it’s a place for remembering a friend, telling stories, supporting one another, sharing funny memories and sending condolences to the family.

Each month, our community managers update our “In Memoriam” thread in the PatientsLikeMe forum with a list of members who have passed away during the previous month, and they include links to each profile. That way, members who haven’t logged on for a while or may have missed the news of someone’s passing can stay up-to-date.  Members can also choose to “follow” that thread if they wish to be notified whenever there is a new monthly update.

As for the profiles of members who have passed, they effectively create a legacy of data on our site, as their profile pages remain accessible to our members in perpetuity.  As a result, present and future members may continue to access these profiles to compare and learn from similar experiences.  Persevering’s detailed treatment, symptom and disease progression data, for example, will live on as a rich source of information and insight for other ALS patients.  What was his experience in the Phase II Study of NP001?  Read his comprehensive treatment history here.  What side effect led him to stop taking Riluzole?  Find out here.

Persevering’s Functional Rating Scale (FRS) data, showing his ALS progression over time.

So as you can see, Persevering is still helping others today, and we thank him for that.  We also want to recognize his contributions to our recent publication about NP001.  We have dedicated this new work to him as it was inspired by his keen desire as a “citizen scientist” to analyze and understand the impact of NP001 on his ALS progression.

As a result of these myriad achievements, Persevering will be posthumously awarded the Stephen Heywood Patients Today Award at the 8th Annual ALS Therapy Development Institute Leadership Summit on November 1st in Boston. Learn more about this beloved and influential ALS advocate by checking out the Facebook page created in his honor, entitled Persevering – You Are a Game Changer.


Living with ALS: What We’ve Learned

Posted December 20th, 2011 by

Yesterday, our interview with ALS blogger and three-star member Rachael gave you a glimpse into what it’s like to live with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).  Today we take a closer look using the data and experiences shared by our 4,844 ALS members, who comprise the world’s largest online ALS population.

Living with ALS: Some of the Most Commonly Reported ALS Symptoms (and Their Reported Severity) at PatientsLikeMe

ALS, which stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a degenerative disorder affecting upper motor neurons in the brain and lower motor neurons in the brain stem and spinal cord. Some of the most debilitating symptoms include progressive weakness, atrophy, fasciculations (muscle twitches), dysphagia (swallowing difficulty), and eventual paralysis of all respiratory function.  Other commonly reported symptoms are shown in the chart above.

Given the severity of ALS symptoms, the life expectancy of an ALS patient averages two to five years from diagnosis, according the ALS Association (ALSA).  However, ALSA states, “The disease is variable, and many people live with quality for five years and more.”  Rachael, who is six years post-diagnosis and living a busy, active life thanks to assistive technology, is a perfect example.

What does assistive technology entail?  For many ALS patients like Rachael, this involves the use of medical equipment to aid basic functions such as:

How well do these interventions work?  Click on each treatment name above to read evaluations from hundreds of patients about the effectiveness, side effects, cost and more.  In addition to these various types of equipment, one of the most commonly reported treatments for ALS is Rilutek, the first prescription drug to be approved specifically for ALS.  While it does not cure ALS or improve symptoms, it may extend survival or the time to tracheostomy (the creation of an artificial airway in the throat), which occurs when a patient is no longer able to breathe on his or her own.  Currently, we have 1,124 patients taking Rilutek, with 293 treatment evaluations submitted.

Some of the Side Effects Our Patients Report for the ALS Drug Rilutek

What do patients say about this drug?  We leave you with a sampling of comments that patients have shared on their treatment evaluations.

  • “One day I was having tremors in my left arm. I took the Riluzole [generic name for Rilutek] and one hour later the tremors stopped. I know it is helping.”
  • “I made a decision that 10% increased lifespan from onset was not worth being very sleepy all the time. I would rather require far less sleep each day than live slightly longer.”
  • “It is a slight pain because you’re not supposed to eat for two hours before or an hour after, and I’m trying to keep weight on.”
  • “I think this extended my time by at least six months. I started taking it about two months after my diagnosis. I’ve been told it’s more effective when you start taking it early like I did.”
  • “Quit taking due to elevated enzymes in my liver. Drug caused increased hunger, protein cravings, and very sluggish feeling.”
  • “Currently purchasing under Medicare as a tier 4 drug. When in the doughnut hole, the cost is approximately $985 per month.”
  • “We can never know if Rilutek does any of us any good. If it doesn’t seem to be doing any harm, I believe it is better to take it than not to.”

This is just a sample of the wealth of experience and data to be found at PatientsLikeMe.  Dive in today to learn more about ALS.