#CMSC16 – Medical Affairs VP at EMD Serono Discusses MS Drug Rebif, MS LifeLines Support in Exclusive Interview

Inês Martins, PhD avatar

by Inês Martins, PhD |

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EMD Serono, the U.S. and Canadian subsidiary and biopharmaceutical business of Merck KGaA, focuses exclusively on specialty care. With expertise in fertility, endocrinology, oncology and neurology, the company is featuring several innovative products with therapeutic potential in the oncology, immuno-oncology, and immunology fields.

Rebif (interferon beta-1a), EMD Serono’s therapy for patients with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), is a disease modifying drug (DMD) that functions by balancing the expression of pro- and anti-inflammatory molecules in the brains of MS patients which reduces the number of inflammatory cells in the central nervous system, and leads to decreased neuron inflammation.

Rebif, approved in Europe in 1998 and in the U.S. in 2002, is currently registered in more than 90 nations worldwide. Although the European Commission approved the extension of Rebif indication for patients with early MS back in 2012, this extension is still unavailable in the U.S.

EMD Serono is among dozens of companies present at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC), in National Harbor, Md. through June 4.

In an interview with Multiple Sclerosis News Today, EMD Serono’s Vice President of Medical Affairs, Neurology and Immunology Dr. Rick Munschauer, discussed the therapeutic advantages of Rebif, the concept of personalized medicine for MS, and the MS LifeLines support service.

“As of today, there are 14 separate drugs approved in the United States for the treatment of the relapsing form of the disease” said Munschauer.

Munschauer said Rebif offers 20 years of safety experience – an advantage over the newer drugs.

“What we are finding with some of the newer drugs is that, while their efficacy in clinical trials is very good, safety issues have emerged with many of them over a period of time. And the advantage of Rebif for the patient population directly is that you know what you are dealing with, you have an effective drug, you have a drug with a well-defined safety profile,” Munschauer said.

He also championed MS LifeLines: “MS LifeLines has answered 4 million  . . .  calls since it was begun a little over a decade ago, and I think it represents a commitment (from) our company to have a broader, more holistic approach to the treatment of MS than anyone given drug.”

In 2002, EMD Serono collaborated with Pfizer to launch MS LifeLines, an educational support service for the MS community in the U.S. including patients, caregivers and family members.

The MS LifeLine Nurses includes MS certified nurses that provide patients with advice on injections, side effects management, and in-home injection training.

MS LifeLines Ambassadors include people living with relapsing MS, or care partners who share personal stories with others in the community. The ambassadors inspire well being and provide practical MS tips for dealing successfully with the disease.

Thousands of events hosted by MS LifeLines take place every year across the U.S. to  help people with relapsing MS, care givers and others stay informed and connected with the community.

MS LifeLine also features financial support specialists who help patients understanding insurance benefits, find access to more affordable treatment.


This year, Multiple Sclerosis News Today is providing expanded coverage of the  CMSC annual meeting June 1-4. Our news team will continue to publish feature articles on the presentations, exclusive video interviews from the convention floor with leading MS researchers and professionals, live social media coverage and live streaming.

You can follow the action live on social media with both  #CMSC16 and #msnewstoday hashtags or here: Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) 2016 Annual Meeting

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