Time is critical in MS treatment: message to European Parliament

Experts address European Parliamentary debate on the importance of early effective treatment in multiple sclerosis 

The need for early diagnosis and access to treatment for people with multiple sclerosis (MS) was highlighted at a debate in the European Parliament.
Professor Gavin Giovannoni, Chair of the MS Brain Health initiative, made a strong case for why time is so critical in order to preserve brain reserve, slow down the course of the disease and improve the quality of lives of people with MS.
“Taking care of the brain is a multi-stakeholder responsibility,” urged Professor Giovannoni to an audience of policy makers, healthcare providers, regulators and healthcare technology assessment bodies at the meeting in Brussels on 7 March.
Health economist Dr Gisela Kobelt also set out the case for early intervention with results from a new Cost of Illness study.* The research, conducted in 16 countries among nearly 17,000 participants, showed the impact of fatigue and cognitive difficulties on productivity at work.  Fatigue was reported by 70% of participants, with 34% reporting cognitive difficulties.
“Everything for the economist supports early intervention,” concluded Dr Kobelt, a member of the MS Brain Health steering committee.
Professor Giovannoni and Dr Kobelt were taking part in a seminar organised by the European Multiple Sclerosis Platform (EMSP) and MEP Cristian Busoi (EPP): Can Real World Data Advance the Quality of Health Care in Europe? 
The meeting also examined the value of collecting real world evidence data alongside results from randomized clinical trials. Speakers stressed the need for standardized MS data collection in registries across the EU and beyond. Pooling of core data sets and patient-reported outcomes would provide a strong evidence base for faster identification of drug safety issues, analysis of efficacy and properly informed regulatory and reimbursement decisions.
Professor Eva Havrdová concluded, “Long term data on multiple sclerosis is critically needed to reach decisions on when to treat, how to treat, and to guide payers in what to invest.”
* Kobelt G, Thompson A, Berg J et al. New insights into the burden and costs of multiple sclerosis in Europe. Mult Scler 2017; doi:10.1177/1352458517694432

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