WEST HAMLIN, WV (WOWK) – Patients with ALS have been pushing for years to get access to more treatments as they look for ways to slow a disease with no cure. This week a major development was made in that fight.

“Suddenly 3.5 years later from when we were diagnosed we are finding ourselves in a totally different ballgame than we had in early 2018,” said ALS advocate Mike Henson as he talked to Lincoln County, WV resident and fellow advocate Thurman Maynard on a video chat Thursday.

We’ve been following Maynard’s story for a while now as he pushes for improved accessibility to more ALS drugs. He’s been on a mission since participating in a stem cell trial shortly after his diagnosis.

Wednesday FDA advisors voted 7-to-2 in support of approving the drug AMX0035.

“It is a 100% fatal disease. We are dying to try these drugs. Let us try them,” Maynard said. “We have nothing to lose. Now it seems like there has been movement in the White House. Hopefully we can keep the momentum up and keep the wheels rolling toward these other drugs in the pipeline so we can get more drugs in bodies.”

This is a preliminary step but a big one, especially since advisors initially rejected the drug back in March.

“The FDA could still say no to this new drug,” Henson explained. “But it is unlikely. The most likely result is AMX0035 will probably be approved for ALS.”

Maynard, Henson and many others have spent years advocating for more treatment options and availability. Both say they are excited to finally be seeing the results.

“It made us feel like ‘hey, they are starting to feel our pain, hear our cries,’ this is amazing,” Maynard said. “We are changing the trajectory of the ALS pharmaceutical stuff. I mean pushing for these drugs it is going to open up a spectrum of drugs for us battling this disease and it was exciting.”

Last year Congress passed the Accelerating Access to Critical Therapies for ALS Act allowing more flexibility to get drugs approved faster.