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Rilutek © was designed by the pharmaceutical company Aventis Pharma. The FDA approved it in December 1995, with the generic name of Riluzole. During its clinical research trials, people with ALS took the drug for a thirteen to eighteen month period.
Rilutek © works on a neurotransmitter called glutamate. Neurotransmitters are chemical substances nerves use to transmit impulses from one nerve cell to the next. A popular theory believes the accumulation in the amount of glutamate causes the death of nerve cells. Rilutek © functions to block the amount of glutamate produced, and gives protection to the nerve cell. However, the whole process of how the drug acts to block glutamate or protect nerve cells is unknown.