Improving access to treatments for people with MS is a key strategic priority for the MSIF movement. There are now many treatments that can modify the course of the disease, prevent accumulation of disability and protect the brain from damage caused by MS.
Unfortunately, access to these treatments is difficult in many countries – often impossible. This is why MSIF is working with influential partner organisations to reduce the barriers to accessing treatments across the world.
Access to affordable MS medications is not just an issue in lower income countries. Recent advocacy work from the National MS Society (NMSS) shows it is a critical issue in the United States too. A recent study published in the journal Neurology reports that the cost of MS drugs has doubled in the last 7 years, despite the introduction of a generic form of the widely used drug, glatiramer acetate.
The academic paper is accompanied by an NMSS survey of nearly 600 people with MS showing that 40% of respondents had “altered or stopped” disease-modifying therapies for their MS due to high cost.
“MS has seen remarkable treatment innovations in the last 25 years, but that progress doesn’t mean much if people with MS can’t access these innovations due to price considerations, nor should they experience the enormous challenges and choices we heard about in our survey,”
Tim Coetzee, chief advocacy, services and research officer at the NMSS.
Holly Ridgway, who was diagnosed with MS in 2011, said her family has struggled financially because of the cost of her medications:
“We don’t go to the movies, we don’t go out to dinner. My family shouldn’t have to choose between getting me my medications and buying groceries”.
As well as advocating for improved access to medicine in the US, the NMSS plays a key role in MSIF’s work to improve access worldwide.