2 posts tagged “disease modifying treatment”

What Do You Know About Multiple Sclerosis?

Posted March 1st, 2012 by

The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation Has Been Sponsoring MS Education and Awareness Month Since 2003

March is National MS Education and Awareness Month (NMEAM), an initiative of the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (MSF) to raise awareness for this chronic neurological disease affecting the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.

This year’s theme is “At Your Best with MS,” encouraging the more than 2.5 million people with MS worldwide to seek the best quality of life possible.  This means different things to different people as MS varies widely in severity, with approximately 15% of those diagnosed becoming severely disabled.  It could include adhering to a treatment regimen, eating healthy, keeping fit, developing a support network and/or maintaining good emotional health.

It could also refer to nurturing hobbies and interests.  That’s why the MSF has launched the “Show Us Your Best” contest, which calls for creative submissions (such as poems, essays, photo collages, videos, songs and more) demonstrating how people are raising awareness of MS.  The deadline for entry is March 31st, and the grand prize winner will win a cruise for two on MSF’s 2013 “Cruise for a Cause” to Alaska.

A Snapshot of the MS Community at PatientsLikeMe - and Its Age/Gender Breakdowns

With 26,000+ members, the MS community at PatientsLikeMe is one of our largest.  Approximately 80% of the MS community is female (reflecting the fact that MS is at least 2-3 times more common in women than men), and slightly more than half have the relapsing-remitting form of the disease (RRMS).  We also have 1,400+ patients with primary progressive MS (PPMS), 2,200+ with secondary progressive MS (SPMS) and 580+ with progressive relapsing MS (PRMS).

Some of the most commonly reported MS symptoms in our community include bladder problems, brain fog, excessive daytime sleepiness and stiffness/spasticity.  What are our members taking for these issues – as well as for MS itself?  From disease-modifying treatments (DMTs) like Copaxone, Avonex and Tysabri to steroids like Prednisone to symptom-specific medications like Baclofen and Modafinil, our members have submitted hundreds of evaluations for nearly all available treatment options.  (Click on each drug name above to find out how they rate the effectiveness, side effects, cost and more.)

A Snapshot of Some of the Most Commonly Reported MS Symptoms - and Their Severity - at PatientsLikeMe

Our members are not only sharing their experiences with treatments and symptoms on their PatientsLikeMe profiles – they’re also chatting about them.  A lot.  To date, the MS forum room has over 786,000 posts! Some of the most frequently used forum tags are CCSVI (“The Liberation Procedure”), Low Dose Naltexone (LDN), SSDI (Disability Insurance), Fatigue, “LimboLand” and Research.  (Click on each category to see what patients are saying about the topic.)

Piqued by all the knowledge found in our MS community?  This is just the the tip of the iceberg – and the kickoff of our MS coverage this month.  Stay tuned for more about what our MS members are sharing and learning during MS Awareness Week (March 10-17th), organized by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS).


Multiple Sclerosis: Sustaining Care, Seeking a Cure

Posted July 15th, 2010 by

cmsc-logoOur research team here at PatientsLikeMe carries out world-class research in collaboration with academic centers, commercial partners (see “how we make money“), and to help answer questions from our patients. We share our findings with the world through this blog, peer-reviewed publications, and by attending academic conferences like the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) annual conference. This meeting, now in its 24th year, is for neurologists, nurses, researchers, and other healthcare professionals involved in MS to share their knowledge, network, and form new research collaborations.

In collaboration with our partners at Novartis, our MS community recently participated in a research study exploring the reasons why people don’t always take their disease-modifying therapies as prescribed. Adherence to medication is a big issue in chronic conditions; although we all mean to take our meds as prescribed by physicians, good intentions can fall by the wayside when real life interferes with our plans! Decreased adherence could lead to less medication efficacy, more relapses, and a higher burden of disability for MS patients.

By exploring the messages posted in our vibrant MS forum, and carrying out a review of the scientific literature, we constructed a new questionnaire called the “MS Treatment Evaluation Questionnaire” (MS-TEQ) that sought to explore and quantify the barriers that get in the way of people taking their DMTs as prescribed. As part of the validation process we also showed the questionnaire to some local MS patients to ensure it was easy to understand. In December of 2009, we sent out an invitation to 1,209 carefully selected patients and asked them to complete the MS-TEQ. Within just two weeks, we had complete responses back from 442 patients, a 37% overall response rate.

cmsc-poster-snapshot

The MS-TEQ addresses three areas: 1) MS-TEQ Barriers: the barriers faced by patients that stop them from taking their meds as prescribed (e.g., forgetting), 2) MS-TEQ SEs:  the side effects they experience (e.g., injection site reactions), and 3) MS-TEQ Cope: coping strategies they use to try and cope with these side effects (e.g., using an ice cube to reduce pain and itching). Our analysis found that for every 10 points on the MS-TEQ Barriers scale, patients did not take 10% of their medication as prescribed. However, we also found cause for hope; every coping mechanism they used to try and ameliorate their DMT side effects had a positive effect of 4% on the proportion of their DMTs that they took as prescribed.

At the conference’s poster session, we got a lot of interest from attendees and gave away all of our handouts and copies of the questionnaire, so you might be seeing the MS-TEQ in a clinic near you any day now! Our hope is that the questionnaire will help patients and their healthcare providers to understand why someone is struggling to take their medication as prescribed, and to give them a way of measuring this over time. We are currently preparing a manuscript to submit to a peer-reviewed journal to share our findings with the rest of the academic community.

Do you have trouble taking your MS disease-modifying therapies as prescribed? Check out our treatment database. Thousands of our members have written evaluations of the drugs used in MS, including advice and tips on how to stay adherent to your medication to improve your outcomes.

PatientsLikeMe member pwicks