disease-modifying therapies (DMTs)

Two Different Approaches to Providing Online MS Help

I received an email recently from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in the U.S. promoting a searchable database of “credible doctors and resources.” A few days later, I happened to run across another online multiple sclerosis (MS) information service hosted by the HealthCare Journey website. They call it…

Why Aren’t You Using an MS Medication?

  I see a lot of answers to the question about why people stop, or refuse to start, an MS medication. “Thinking of stopping the…meds. Sick of the shots and how they hurt to take them” “I stopped all of them….all multiple times. It…

New Study Supports Hitting MS Fast and Hard

The question of how quickly to start a disease-modifying therapy (DMT) after a multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis is one that I frequently see when I browse online. It goes hand in hand with questions about which DMT is best to start with. There are many things to consider when…

MS Treatment Decisions Can Cause a ‘Gambler’s Dilemma’

One of the toughest decisions facing someone with MS is whether to begin treatment with a disease-modifying therapy (DMT). Equally tough, I think, is deciding which DMT road to travel — because there are three roads that can be followed. One path starts you on a simple, first-level medication. These…

Pregnancy, DMTs, and MS: A New Study

Many years ago a woman I know who has multiple sclerosis (MS) became pregnant. After her child was born her MS became significantly worse. There have been many studies on the impact of pregnancy on someone with MS, with most concluding that the number of MS relapses are reduced…

Most MS Patients OK With Intravenous Treatment Conditions, Study Suggests

Most patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) are satisfied with the conditions of their intravenous therapy (administered directly into the bloodstream) and are very aware of the therapy’s safety, according to a small Macedonian study. Also, establishing a specialized infusion center would substantially increase intravenous treatment satisfaction and adherence. The study, “…

A Pediatric MS Medication Gets the OK

Until about a week ago, no medication was approved in the U.S. to treat patients with pediatric-onset MS (POMS). Now there is one. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given its OK to use Gilenya (fingolimod) to treat relapsing MS in children and adolescents starting at…

New DMT Guidelines Are Good for MS Patients

The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) has just released some new guidelines about when to begin, change, and end disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) that are used to treat MS patients. The guidelines, published on April 23, encourage aggressive treatment when symptoms of MS first appear. They’re also patient-centric. And…

It Shouldn’t Be This Hard to Get Our MS Medications

I got a phone call from my MS One to One nurse, Lynn, today. One to One is the patient support service provided by Sanofi Genzyme for patients on the biotech company’s MS disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) Lemtrada (alemtuzumab) and Aubagio (teriflunomide). Lynn called to ensure that all…

Nurses, Physicians’ Assistants Prescribe Antibody-based Therapies More Than Neurologists, Survey Shows

U.S. nurses and physicians’ assistants prescribe antibody-based disease-modifying therapies to their multiple sclerosis patients more than neurologists do, a survey indicates. The trend has been for the doctors to stick with interferon therapies, the study said. Antibody-based disease-modifying therapies are also known as monoclonal antibodies. They are designed to harness the…

A JC Virus Primer

There is often alarm and confusion about the JC virus, how we get it, and what it means to people with multiple sclerosis. This is my quick primer to help address these questions in a very basic way. What is the JC virus? The first person identified with this…

Ocrevus Q&A, Part 1

Editor’s Note: First in a two-part series on readers’ comments about Ocrevus (ocrelizumab). I switched disease-modifying therapies and began treatment with Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) in June. I previously wrote about my reasons for switching, my experiences with the first two doses, and more recently, about any…

Do MS Patients in the UK Get the Right Treatment Quickly Enough?

About two years ago, a report by the European Multiple Sclerosis Platform stated that only 21% of MS patients in the United Kingdom were receiving any kind of disease-modifying therapy. This is compared to 40% in France and 69% in Germany. Now, the U.K. branch of pharmaceutical giant Sanofi has published a report of its own, "The Missing Pieces." The report tries to answer, "Why is this so?" Here are some of the answers that were received online from a small group of healthcare professionals and MS patients: Nearly three-quarters of U.K. healthcare professionals think that people with MS face delays in starting on disease-modifying treatments (DMTs). Nearly one-quarter of MS patients there reported being unaware of some treatments that could help delay the onset of disability. Only half of people with MS say disability was discussed with their healthcare professional when they were first diagnosed, yet 69% of the healthcare professionals say it was discussed. Only a third of those patients say that "disability" is discussed in their regular MS appointments. Two-thirds of people with MS say that maintaining independence is their main treatment goal, followed by reducing relapses. The report also says that healthcare professionals believe the primary reason that DMTs are slow to be prescribed is lack of access in the U.K. to neurologists who specialize in MS. And, it says, 62% of MS specialist nurses and 47% of MS specialists thought this delay is also because of a shortage of healthcare facilities needed to deliver DMTs. Now, it needs to be noted that this survey involved only 100 MS specialist healthcare professionals and 120 MS patients in the U.K. And, as mentioned earlier, the survey was conducted by Sanofi, which claims to be the fourth largest pharmaceutical company in the world. Sanofi makes two big-time MS drugs: Aubagio (teriflunomide) and Lemtrada (alemtuzumab). Naturally, it has a vested interest in seeing that MS patients are treated with DMTs. (Full disclosure: I recently was compensated by Sanofi Genzyme to attend a meeting of "digital influencers" that the company held at its U.S. headquarters.) But drug sales aside, a case certainly can be made for treating MS patients with DMTs quickly after patients are diagnosed, and many drugs currently on the market have shown that they are able to modify the course of MS. And there's a case to be made about a need for better patient-healthcare provider communication. So, my question is: How do MS patients in the U.K. feel about access to DMTs? And to MS care, in general? Is this small report correct about the lack of knowledge by patients about their treatment options? Is it correct about the lack of MS specialists and resources in the U.K.? Do MS patients outside of the U.K. have similar concerns?

Ocrevus and Me

I’ve done it! I made the treatment switch that so many people with multiple sclerosis are talking about: I said goodbye to Tysabri (natalizumab) and am now on Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) as my disease-modifying therapy (DMT). I went through 56 monthly infusions (or maybe more, I’ve…

MS Drug Treatment Costs Start the Year Headed Up

I don’t think this will surprise you. Multiple sclerosis drugs, some of the most expensive drugs there are, are getting even more expensive. Drug industry analyst Eric Schmidt, quoted in the Boston Business Journal, reported that Biogen began the new year by upping the price of Tecfidera,…