New treatment gives local teen with MS more freedom

New treatment gives local teen with MS more freedom


by ANN SHERIDAN / NBC Charlotte Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @SheridanWCNC

Posted on May 14, 2013 at 7:29 AM

Updated Tuesday, May 14 at 7:41 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C.--  High school senior  Anna Gallucci has the voice of an angel. 

This Charlotte teenager is such a powerful singer, she got into several college music programs.  But once accepted, Gallucci didn't know if she could do it.

"I don't want to be the person who misses class every month because I have to go to the hospital," said Gallucci.

Gallucci has multiple sclerosis.  Her initial treatment:  shots every other day.

"First of all, I'm terrified of shots.  When I found out I had to take them every other day, I was freaked out," she said.

So her mother gave her the shots.  They burned, left welts and bruises, she says.

"It was such an emotional time for both of us.  She'd hate it. I'd cry.  I was 16 years old, crying like I was a 4-year-old," she says.
But now patients like Gallucci are finding hope in a new drug for MS.  A pill called Tecfidera.

Dr. Michael Kaufman is an MS specialist with Carolinas Healthcare System.

 "I think we're going to control, very well, people who have new onset MS.  We can do it now," said Kaufman.
Lisa Smart works with Doctor Kaufman.  She too has dedicated her life to helping MS patients.  When NBC Charlotte visited their offices, Smart held a binder full of names of patients who hoped to be able to try the new drug. 

It's important  to Smart that they all get help because her mom had M.S. and eventually died from side effects the condition caused.
"At that time they didn't know a whole lot about it and it was like a death sentence, basically,"  she said.
 No longer the case for patients like  Gallucci.
"It gives me hope they'll find a cure eventually,"  she said "I'm just a teenager and I've got my whole life ahead of  me and I don't want to have to get an infusion or a shot everyday for the rest of my life."
Tecfidera is the second pill form of medication to help MS patients.  A third drug is awaiting FDA approval.

Saturday, May 18th, is the MS Walk in Charlotte.

If you'd like to participate or learn more,  click on the link below for more information.