Emerging therapies is a topic that is of interest to anyone involved in the management of multiple sclerosis. Whether you are a person with MS or a practitioner you cannot help but get caught up in the fever of all the new treatments being talked about. We are in the era of exploding knowledge and have been in that era for the past twenty five years. In all the hoopla of “newness” we sometimes forget how far we have come. The first edition of my book, “Managing the Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis” was relatively small and did not include any disease modifying treatments because there were none. Today we have seven treatments approved by the FDA that all have the potential of changing the long term outlook for those with MS and another right around the corner which will be the first orally approved treatment. Along with that we now have the first treatment to improve walking skills for those impaired. That is the first symptom type drug approved specifically for MS (Ampyra-dalfampridine).
We have to continually be aware that the risk of the newer treatments may be more dangerous than the risk of the disease for many, so choosing treatments is important. Just because a treatment is oral or once a month does not mean that it is the right treatment for a person. That medical decision is best made by an expert who knows the disease rather than the person who has the disease. That person has to be involved in understanding why a specific treatment has been selected. Leaving the selection to the person with the disease is akin to asking them to do surgery without the appropriate training. It has become far too complicated to take this lightly.
We have to be rational as we explore the future as it looks bright with research in genetics, immunology, symptom management, epidemiology, nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, exercise, social issues, psychology, speech pathology, nutrition, etc. It is a time to become better educated for all of us! Stay tuned to our upcoming Webinar on Research and Emerging Therapies to continue the dialogue.