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WASHINGTON – A U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel on Wednesday voted to recommend the approval of an experimental drug to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

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The FDA panel voted 7-2 after hours of debate that data from Amylyx Pharma merited approval, according to The Associated Press. The FDA’s decision comes after the panel voted 6-4 in late March to recommend against the agency approving the drug, called AMX0035, The Washington Post reported.

At that meeting, the FDA’s Peripheral and Central Nervous System Drugs Advisory Committee concluded that the evidence provided by a single clinical trial that had 137 patients and some follow-up data was insufficient to show that the drug could slow down ALS, a degenerative disease of the nervous system that usually kills people within five years, the Post reported.

ALS is commonly linked to baseball Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig, whose career was cut short in 1939 when he was diagnosed with the disease. Gehrig died in June 1941 from the disease.

The FDA is not required to follow the panel’s advice, but its positive recommendation suggests an approval could come as soon as later this month, the AP reported.

The panel was swayed by Amylyx officials, who promised to pull the drug from the market if a larger study, which includes 600 patients, fails to show effectiveness, the Post reported.

Justin Klee, co-chief executive of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech company, told panel members that “we will do what is right for patients, which includes withdrawing the product from the market.”

The FDA has approved only two therapies for the disease, according to the AP.

Liana G. Apostolova, a neurologist at Indiana University School of Medicine, said she was “mildly to moderately” persuaded that AMX0035 extends life by at least several months, the Post reported.

“To deprive ALS patients of a drug that might work is not something I feel terribly comfortable with,” she said.

Kenneth Fischbeck, a scientist at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, voted no again, stating that he did not believe the drug had met the standard of substantial evidence of effectiveness.

The ALS drug is made up of two components — a prescription drug called sodium phenylbutyrate, which is used to treat rare liver disorders — and a nutritional supplement called taurursodiol, which protects neurons from destruction, according to the Post.

Amylyx applied to the FDA for approval of the drug in November 2021, the newspaper reported.