New Therapies Bring Hope And Quality-Of-Life To MS Patients

By: News Canada

(NC)-One of the most devastating pieces of news a younger person can be given is that they have an incurable, progressive disease. Sadly, this happens every day to an average of three Canadians between the ages of 20 and 40 when they are diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). In fact, Canada has one of the highest rates of MS in the world. More than 50,000 Canadians suffer from this disabling disease of the nervous system.

Multiple Sclerosis means "many scars" and occurs when a person's own immune system damages myelin, the insulation that surrounds and protects nerve fibres. While MS is not fatal for the majority of people who have it, it can cause loss of balance, problems with movement, impaired speech, extreme fatigue, vision difficulty and eventually paralysis.

The good news is that with new therapies and the improvement of treatments, people with MS can lead full and healthy lives.

In a recent "real world" study on MS treatments, patients reported enjoying an improved quality-of-life by adhering to specific therapeutic treatments. For example, those treated with a once-a-week therapy called Avonex? (interferon beta-1a) were more than twice as likely to adhere to their therapy than patients on other more frequently taken MS drugs.

"There has been an ongoing debate in the neurology community as to whether weekly or more frequent treatments are better from a clinical standpoint, but what is important to keep in mind is that no drug will work in the real world if patients fail to comply with their treatment regimen," says Dr. Jean-Pierre H. Côté, an MS Specialist in Montréal.

The study showed only 18 per cent of Avonex? patients reported ever missing an injection versus 45 per cent of non-Avonex? patients. In addition, almost three times as many Avonex? patients said they never experienced injection site reactions like itchiness, pain or redness; and, they reported feeling initial flu-like symptoms much less frequently (3.65 times per month) than patients on other interferon therapies (9.02 times).

The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada has proclaimed May MS Awareness Month and on Mother's Day weekend (May 10 - 12), thousands of volunteers will sell carnations to the Canadian public to raise funds and awareness for this devastating disease.

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