Disease Areas

Friedreich ataxia

Friedreich ataxia (FA)

FA is a genetic, debilitating and life-shortening neuromuscular disease, affecting approximately 15,000 individuals globally.1 Early symptoms of FA, such as progressive loss of coordination, muscle weakness and fatigue, typically appear in children and can overlap with other diseases. Many people with FA use walking aids and often require a wheelchair. Most people will need to use a wheelchair within 10 to 20 years after diagnosis. Other symptoms of FA include vision impairment, hearing loss, slurred speech, aggressive scoliosis, diabetes mellitus, and serious heart conditions.1

Our Approach

Biogen acquired Reata Pharmaceuticals in September 2023, and we are proud to build on the outstanding work Reata has done to launch the first and only U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved treatment for FA in adults and adolescents aged 16 years and older. Additionally, Biogen's commitment to rare disease expertise and capabilities has led to the approval of the treatment in Europe, further expanding access to patients worldwide.


Michael’s story

Michael works hard to keep his body moving and functioning as well as it can so that he can continue doing what he loves – playing lawn bowls. As his Friedreich ataxia (FA) condition progressed, Michael transitioned from sports such as golf and cricket to take on the highly competitive activity of lawn bowls.

Facts and Figures


Approximately 75% of people with FA are diagnosed between five and 18 years of age.1


The average life expectancy for people living with FA is 37 years.2


Most people living with FA will need to use a wheelchair within 10-20 years of their first symptoms. 3

  1. Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance - What is FA? (curefa.org). Accessed on: January 2024.
  2. Parkinson MH, Boesch S, Nachbauer W, Mariotti C, Giunti P. Clinical features of Friedreich's ataxia: classical and atypical phenotypes. J Neurochem. 2013 Aug;126 Suppl 1:103-17. doi: 10.1111/jnc.12317. PMID: 23859346.
  3. Rummey et al., E Clinical Medicine 18, 2020

Breaking New Ground With Science