Multiple Sclerosis Drugs
July 22, 2011 by staff
Multiple Sclerosis Drugs, The drugs used in the hope of halting the advance of multiple sclerosis may help some patients, but at a very high cost, according to a study on Wednesday. The drugs in question are called disease-modifying drug (DMD) have been available since the 1990s for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
The drugs include interferon beta (brand names such as Avonex, Rebif, Betaseron and), Glatiramer (Copaxone) and natalizumab (Tysabri). Which are administered by injection or infusion and may help prevent outbreaks MS symptoms and delay long-term disability of the disease.
But the price is very large, with each drug now costs over 3,000 per month in the U.S.
The new study, published in the journal Neurology, estimates that people who use drugs in a decade, would have a modest health benefit for the money.
They earn an extra two months or less good health more than 10 years, say the researchers, compared with only the use of therapies to help relieve the symptoms of MS – such as medicines for spasms of pain, fatigue and muscle.
Overall, the study estimates that, DMD and costs about 1 million per year of life relatively healthy person with MS can expect to win with 10 years of use.
In contrast, the common threshold used to define a “cost effective” range of treatment and between 50,000 and 150,000 per year and quality of life gained.
The number of DMD is an “order of magnitude greater,” said Katia Noyes, a researcher at the University of Rochester in New York, who led the study.
However, he stressed the findings do not mean that people with MS should not take drugs.
“This study was designed to try to deprive people with MS of any therapy,” Noyes said in an interview. It was not the intention, he said, to tell doctors to prescribe what the insurance companies or what you pay.
However, Noyes added, in the era of health reform, studies that look at the value of different medical therapies, and the factors that seem to affect their cost-effectiveness for patients in general.
In the case of DMD for MS, he said, the earlier onset in the course of the disease seems to be better.
Researchers estimate that from drugs before any significant disability makes the cheaper drug – although that still loom over 700.000 per year and quality of life gained.
Part of the problem is the nature of MS and how DMD work. In MS, the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s nerve fibers, causing symptoms such as muscle weakness, numbness, vision problems and difficulty with coordination and balance. In most cases, symptoms wax and wane – the worsening of a period of time, followed by a period of mild symptoms or none at all. Finally, the cycle often leads to physical disability.
From the beginning, DMD can reduce the number of symptom flare-ups. However, its central effect on the quality of life would be stagnant disability, Noyes said.
“The main benefit of these drugs is long term,” he said. “That may be 10 or 20 years down the road.”
Noyes also noted that MS is not “unique” in those therapies with a high price for profit.
Other examples are implanted defibrillators for individuals at high risk of cardiac arrest, many cancer treatments and therapies arthritis. And there are many medical interventions, said Noyes, whose profitability has never been studied.
“The good news from this study is that these drugs appear to be effective, on average,” said Kathleen A. Smyth, a researcher at the Center neurological outcome at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
“The bad news is that these gains are priced very high,” said Smyth, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study.
People who are already familiar with MS drugs high costs, said in an interview, but the price may be a shock for new patients.
However, Smyth said, people with MS need to make treatment decisions on an individual basis, after talking to your doctor – and not based solely on cost.
Like Noyes, said the previous treatment appeared more effective in this study. So while ultimately may cost more, from a previous DMD patients may benefit more.
“I do not think there is nothing in this study that should prevent people from getting early diagnosis and initiate treatment,” said Smyth.
He also noted that the picture might change in the future. DMD when patents expire individual over time, for example, the cost could come down some. And after certain medications can be preferred by insurance companies.
Both Noyes and Smyth said the findings highlight a broader issue: the high price Americans pay for prescription drugs.
Avonex, for example, cost the Americans with MS and 34,000 for the year 2010. The price in the UK was equivalent to about 12,000 and – because that is what the NHS will pay for the drug.
And the costs are only increasing. DMD manufacturers have raised prices since last year, in response to the approval of the first oral medication MS – Gilenya, made by Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG.
The annual cost of drugs in the U.S. approaches and 48,000. But since it’s a pill, the drug is expected to reduce significantly the sales of the DMD others.
As it stands, said Smyth, DMD no particular stands out as “best buy” for Americans.
DMD drug manufacturers did not respond in time to requests from Reuters Health for comment on the new study, however, a spokesman for Biogen Idec, maker of Avonex, provided a written statement on the issue of costs drugs:
“The total cost of managing a chronic disease like MS is expensive and involves much more than medication,” wrote Jeff Boyle. “Avonex is approved for the treatment of relapsing multiple sclerosis (RRMS) and we believe the pricing is consistent with the value of the real world that provides patients with MS. Avonex remains the least expensive option for those seeking delay progression of MS and is the only time a week treatment for RRMS has been shown to reduce relapse, start working after the first attack and slow the progression of physical disability, helping patients stay active longer “.
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