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Genzyme reports positive long-term data for multiple sclerosis treatment

PARIS, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Genzyme, the rare disease unit of French drug company Sanofi, said on Thursday five-year investigational data from the extension study of its medication Lemtrada, sold in Europe and the United States, had shown positive results for patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis.

"The (positive) effects (...) observed in the two-year trials were maintained through three additional years in the extension study (years three, four and five)," Genzyme said in a statement.

The results will be presented at a Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) in Barcelona, Spain, on Friday.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, autoimmune condition which affects more than 2.5 million people worldwide and up to around 500,000 in the United States. It attacks the central nervous system and can cause muscle weakness, pain and cognitive difficulties.

Genzyme hopes to grow in the multiple sclerosis field with the help of new products developed in-house but also through acquisitions in a market where it competes with companies such as U.S. Biogen, Switzerland's Novartis and Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries.

Swiss group Roche unveiled positive results for a new drug aimed at tackling multiple sclerosis in both the progressive form of the disease and more common relapsing forms in September.

On Wednesday, Sanofi and Genzyme said another drug for multiple sclerosis, Aubagio, had also recorded positive data.

(Reporting by Matthias Blamont, editing by David Evans)