MS Treatments and Choices

As much as possible I avoid going to the grocery store. Why? Because I can get overwhelmed by the choices I am faced with making. I am easily distracted as I stand in front of the rows of cereal, trying to decide what to buy – the bright colors, the faces of children or animals and even the eye level placement of the cereal boxes are all designed to make me pick that particular brand.  It’s a hard choice – Tony the Tiger, Cap’n Crunch, and Snap, Crackle and Pop!, all hold a fond place in my heart and scream ‘pick me!” Why are there so many choices all competing for my attention and dollars?

There was a cat food commercial that just aired on the television that made me pause and ask ‘why?’  It seems that cats need choices too, and this particular brand that comes in little round cans said it was available in 50 different varieties, if I heard it correctly. It might have only been 15 and not 50 that I heard, but still I have to ask – really?  Do you think a cat can tell that much of a difference between 15 or 50 flavors or even more, and make their choice known for you to buy? I can tell you I’ve never encountered a feline in the pet food aisle picking out themselves their own cans of dinner.  Fifteen or fifty, that amount of choices is over the top and is just one more of multiple examples I could offer of too many choices we have, all of them vying for the consumer’s dollars

We know the maxim ‘less is more,’ which is almost always true and as consumers we are usually faced with too many choices.  The flip-side of this idea, however, is sometimes choices are necessary and we can’t have too many.

Such is the case with the current offering of disease modifying therapies (DMT’s) that are available to people with Multiple Sclerosis.  It used to be there was only one drug – Betaseron.  It was so special and limited, people with MS put their name into a lottery to get the chance to give them this shot and possibly slow their Multiple Sclerosis.  Then the market grew to include more drugs given by injections, a couple that are infused, and more recently, in pill form.

There are now ten disease modifying therapies approved by the FDA for use in the United States, and all of them are marketed in shiny ways to catch our attention and grab our health care dollars. Here is the alphabetical list of these drugs by their trade and pharmaceutical names:

Aubagio (teriflunomide)

Avonex (interferon beta-1a)

Betaseron (interferon beta-1b)

Copaxone (glatiramer acetate)

Extavia (interferon beta-1b)

Gilenya (fingolimod)

Novantrone (mitoxantrone)

Rebif (interferon beta-1a)

Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate)

Tysabri (natalizumab)

Having all these choices is a good thing, and it is exciting that even more drugs are in the development pipeline and will be approved over the next few years.  Why do we need so many DMT’s?  Because we are all unique and how our MS reacts to one drug may be different than how the next person’s MS responds.  If one drug doesn’t work for us for whatever reason, our neurologists can always recommend we move on to a different drug to try.

If there was ever a time to be diagnosed with MS, it is now.  There are so many choices for treatment and as research continues on biomarkers that will help us to know what drug will work best for each person, the treatment options will continue to improve and make a better life for people with MS possible.

We can all eat the same few cereals, and cats could narrow down to just a few of their choices of food flavors to free up shelf space in the grocery stores, but we can’t and shouldn’t all take the same MS drug.   It isn’t possible to have too many choices when it comes to our health care.

Wishing you well,

Laura

 

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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