Thursday, March 5, 2009

MS: The Economic and Public Policy View

Multiple Sclerosis is an expensive disease, both in monetary measures and in quality of life measures. Not just the exorbitant costs of the disease-modifying treatments, but the indirect costs from lost productivity, the costs of informal care, and the costs associated with a diminished quality of life.

Has your neurologist ever said to you - “this is the best time to have MS.”
What?! Is he or she crazy? Why would I chose ANY time to have MS?

Not too many years ago, there was very little neurologists could do to help their MS patients. If you had an exacerbation, you underwent high-dose steroids or plasmapheresis. If you had symptoms, you tried something to help relieve them.

Doesn’t sound that much different than the present. The difference is, however, that we have several disease-modifying treatments which have been developed to delay the progression of the disease and hopefully prevent some of the permanent disability.

Alone, the drugs exhibit a tangible cost to the payer (ie. insurance company, government agency, or the patient himself). Then consider the cost of medical care and rehabilitation, the indirect cost of extra care provided by family and friends, and the intangible cost of diminished quality of life.

The challenge, then, becomes in demonstrating the cost-effectiveness of intervention. By preventing temporary disability resulting from relapses (now) and permanent disability from slowing disease progression (later), the main economic benefit (to the payer) is in future cost-savings generated by less disability which lead to maintaining a higher HRQOL.

For a discussion of the Overall Costs for MS patients in the United States, read the following study which was conducted in 2004. Although the numbers are outdated, the methodology and theory behind the analysis remains true. See Kobelt G, Berg J, et al. Costs and Quality of Life in Multiple Sclerosis: A Cross-Sectional Study in the USA. SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance No 594, December 2004.

Read this post in its entirety:

Quality of Life for MS Patients: The Economic and Public Policy View (Part Five in Series)


  1. IF you must have MS, I do think this is a better time than 30 years ago, if only for the INTERNET! I would only have know one other person w/MS in my hometown, but for the Internet. And maybe, just maybe, these drugs will help.

  2. Diane,
    I actually agree with you whole-heartedly. When my neurologist told me that, I didn't fully understand what he meant. The undercurrent of sarcasm is actually in reflection of some comments I read of other MSers.

    I actually think it's pretty exciting that so much information is available on the internet, much less the amount of support which is freely given. Just think, there's no way we would have ever crossed paths otherwise.

    I just hope that the research continues and that the evidence supports getting us the interventions which we need to maintain our Quality of Life!!

  3. “this is the best time to have MS.” yeah, a strange concept. like, this is a great time to have a big spike driven into your head. i want to say fine, then YOU take the MS.

  4. All things being equal, I'd rather be in Cleveland!

  5. Thanks for the sweet comment on my blog. I have added you to my reader! Nice to find other MS bloggers out there!