New international research finds that people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) prioritise slowing disease progression when considering treatment choices. People with MS want therapies that reduce the number of relapses they experience and to achieve better control of symptoms like fatigue and pain.
Since the early 1990s over a dozen disease modifying treatments (DMTs) for MS have been licensed. Two linked reports published today present new findings on what people living with MS want from their medicines and from non-pharmaceutical therapies. Key priorities include slowing disease progression and reducing the severity of symptoms such as depression and fatigue, which can amplify the impacts of the illness. Dr Tom Kenny, a former GP who heads the UCL spin-out company Spoonful of Sugar that researches medicines-taking and conducted the TaP-MS survey said today:
“There are important differences in approaches to MS treatment and care between countries. We need to monitor outcomes and do all we can to make excellent treatment universally available. The TaP-MS survey emphasises the high value many people with MS place on preventing disease progression. If doctors do not have good insight into and respect for the beliefs and priorities of people living with MS they risk failing to achieve the best possible results for their patients.”
Professor David Taylor of the UCL School of Pharmacy, said: “People living with MS want freedom from varying and intrusive symptoms like pain, visual difficulties and mobility problems and protection from declines in their mental and physical abilities. All medicines carry risks and there are at present uncertainties about the long term value of newer MS therapies. But strategies based on early diagnosis and prompt access to effective treatment should provide increasing future benefit, especially when accompanied by adequate investment in areas like rehabilitation and social care aimed at goals like helping people with MS stay in work and enjoy a fulfilling social life.”
Greater Expectations argues that current economic evaluation methods can under-estimate the true value of better MS treatments. Fears about the affordability of high quality health and social care can also be exaggerated. The UCL School of Pharmacy report in addition, points to the potential for MS prevention programmes aimed at reducing vitamin D deficiency-related risks and cutting smoking and obesity rates amongst teenagers. However, providing disease modifying treatments and investing in ongoing biomedical research are central to further reducing MS related harm. Greater Expectations’ recommendations include: