Written by MSAA Chief Medical Consultant Jack Burks, MD
Understanding Progression in MS is a valuable resource for the entire MS community, explaining the latest advances in the understanding of MS progression. As the title implies, the aim of this booklet is to help people with MS and their loved ones to better understand what is happening when progression in MS occurs, and how – at this point in time – it may be best treated.
In March 2017, the MS community welcomed the first disease-modifying therapy (DMT) approved for progressive forms of MS. This newly approved medication is named Ocrevus™ (ocrelizumab) and it was specifically approved for primary-progressive MS (PPMS) and relapsing forms of MS (RMS), which includes secondary-progressive MS (SPMS) with relapses. This FDA approval was very exciting, since prior to this time, approved disease-modifying therapies were only available for relapsing forms of MS.
In spite of the excitement generated by the approval of a medication aimed at reducing disease progression, this is tempered by the fact that a cure for MS has yet to be discovered. No medication at this time can eliminate MS or the many challenges it presents to all members of the MS community. However, resources such as this booklet, which help to explain the importance of long-term treatments, rehabilitation, symptom management, and wellness strategies, can provide the assistance needed to implement a plan that has the potential to attain the best health outcomes possible.
Adherence to an informed treatment plan – from taking medication precisely as prescribed, to timely follow-up appointments with one’s team of healthcare professionals, plus employing important strategies for healthy living – are the best recommendations I can provide to the MS community as MSAA’s chief medical consultant. For individuals who do not remain adherent to their treatment plan, the potential benefits are lost, so staying current with prescribed medications and wellness strategies is vitally important.
My hope is that anyone experiencing progression in MS may benefit from this informative publication, by helping him or her to better manage the disease and maximize quality of life. I also want to emphasize that the current research in MS progression continues to inspire other scientists to work toward the “next generation” of MS treatments – those that will further reduce the damage caused by MS and restore lost function. I look forward to the many exciting discoveries ahead, with the ultimate goal of ending this very challenging disease.