Support & Information
Health and social care

Treatment and medication


Riluzole is the only drug funded for the treatment of MND in New Zealand.

A diagnosis of less than five years duration, with good respiratory function is necessary for approval. In addition the person must be ‘ambulatory’, or ‘able to use the upper limbs’, or ‘able to swallow’. These conditions are not defined in detail.

Most newly diagnosed individuals in New Zealand are eligible.

Riluzole, 100mg per day, results in a benefit of about 9% gain in the probability of surviving one year after treatment allocation, and increased median survival from 11.8 to 14.8 months.

It is important to know that the loss of functions caused by MND will continue despite the treatment.

As with all drugs, some people may have a better response to Riluzole than others. It is impossible to predict the benefits that each individual will gain.

Not all patients tolerate the treatment but, overall, tolerance is satisfactory. The most common side effects of Riluzole are weakness, nausea, mild liver dysfunction and headache. Doctors can provide guidance on managing any obvious side effects and may arrange for people to have regular blood tests to ensure that Riluzole is not causing side effects of which the person is not aware.

Discuss with your neurologist if this treatment is right for you.