The Changing Landscape
The first treatment for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993. This forever changed the landscape of how MS could be managed. The approval of Betaseron® (interferon beta-1b) for RRMS ushered in a remarkable surge of MS treatments designed to reduce the number and severity of exacerbations and help lessen disease progression. Throughout the past two decades, more than a dozen medications for MS have become available, giving neurologists and patients a variety of treatment options for slowing disease activity.
Along with these treatments, known as disease-modifying therapies (DMTs), came the expanded use and improved technology of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Through diagnostic and follow-up MRI scans of the brain and spinal cord, physicians could now better diagnose, treat, track, and manage the ever-changing course of MS in a more definitive and proactive manner.
Advances in MRI techniques, along with years of consistent research data, have demonstrated that most patients who begin and maintain a DMT will experience fewer active lesions on the brain and spinal cord, fewer and less severe exacerbations, a reduction in symptoms, and potentially a delay in disease progression and disability. In addition, more recent clinical trials have found that many of these DMTs also delay time to a second MS-like event, in cases of clinically isolated syndrome (CIS). CIS refers to the first presenting symptom of MS, prior to a confirmed diagnosis.
These impressive results led the MS medical community to universally adopt and support the position of treating relapsing forms of MS with approved DMTs as early as possible and for patients to maintain adherence. Since the mid-2000s, the issue of treatment adherence has been aggressively advocated by leaders in the MS medical and healthcare communities, including MSAA.