Riluzole is the only drug approved by the FDA and the NHS for treating ALS. According to the manufacturer, it can extend a person's life by 2 or 3 months.
From comments made by ALS sufferers on forums, there are many unpleasant side effects; as a result, many people have stopped taking the drug. Therefore, its usefulness is questionable.
Riluzole is believed to decrease glutamate release. One large study reported that 56.8 percent of patients treated with 100 mg of riluzole daily were alive without tracheostomy after 18 months, compared with 50.4 percent of patients who received a placebo, a clinically small but statistically significant difference. Previously, a smaller study reported a significant improvement in survival, but most of those patients had the bulbar form of ALS. Any positive effect on functional abilities from the use of riluzole is unclear, and no studies have reported that the drug halts the disease process. Adverse effects include asthenia, nausea, dizziness, elevation of liver enzymes and granulocytopenia.