Overcoming Challenges Related to Multiple Sclerosis Treatment: Initiating Treatment

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Part Two of Our Multiple Sclerosis Series

In our initial blog post on challenges related to multiple sclerosis (MS) treatments, we discussed the first barrier, which is awareness. A lack of awareness on the part of primary care physicians, sometimes resulting from patients’ failure to share all their symptoms, can lead to a delayed diagnosis.

But even once a diagnosis has been made, many patients choose to delay the start of treatment. Such a decision runs counter to the prevailing view among neurologists that MS patients should be treated early because time matters to their long-term outcomes. Early treatment is now a fundamental principle of MS disease management that is supported by mounting evidence, including recent findings that early treatment of relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) patients lowers their risk of disease progression and prevents disability, according to a 2019 study report published by the JAMA Network of the American Medical Association.

Initiation: Combating the Delayed Start of Treatment

There are several reasons that patients might delay initiating treatment for MS, including:

  • They do not receive a timely diagnosis. 
  • They think their disease is mild because they exhibit few symptoms. 
  • Disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) are expensive, and insurance may not cover them. 
  • They fear the potential side effects of DMTs. 

The fact that a patient diagnosed with MS is exhibiting few symptoms is not a valid reason to delay the start of treatment, as early intervention can help modify the course of their disease. Patients should not wait for symptoms to worsen or increase in frequency before beginning treatment. They also should be educated about the fact that, while DMTs will not bring about any improvement, they will prevent or slow the disease progression.

Early treatment lowers the risk of disease progression and prevents disability, according to a report published by the JAMA Network of the American Medical Association. 

Timely education of both providers and patients—using relevant, targeted content that addresses concerns—can help overcome some barriers to starting therapy. Download the infographic to learn more about the important role pharma manufacturers can play.

Keep an eye out for our next blog post, available on November 11, where we will look at challenges related to treatment adherence. In the meantime, explore how the OptimizeRx Dynamic Audience Activation Platform helps overcome the challenges of treatment initiation in MS and other diseases, or take a look at some of our results.