In the U.S., almost 1 million people are living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS is an unpredictable disease that makes a person’s immune system attack the central nervous system. Inflammation damages the myelin, a protective sheath covering nerves, which leads to an interruption of signals to and from the brain. Because of the interruption, neurological symptoms like fatigue, walking difficulty, weakness in limbs, numbness, eye pain, or vision problems can occur.
The cause of MS is unknown. MS is considered an auto-immune disease and its cause is unknown. Though it is not an inherited disease, specific genes have been identified that may contribute to developing MS. Risk factors that may increase a patient’s odds of developing MS include smoking, obesity, and a previous illness of certain viral infections. Patients with other auto-immune diseases are more likely to develop MS, and more than twice as many women have MS than men.
There is no cure for MS. Treating MS typically focuses on managing symptoms and slowing the progression of the disease. Because there is no cure for MS, it is essential to treat the disease as early as possible to slow the advancement of symptoms and irreversible damage. Though some patients have mild symptoms and do not require treatment, there are over a dozen treatments that may help slow the symptoms and progression of the disease.
Diagnosis and Symptoms Create Challenges
Diagnosis can be difficult. Currently, no single test is available to determine if a person has MS. The first step in diagnosing a patient is to eliminate other potential diagnoses that produce similar symptoms, known as a differential diagnosis. Blood tests can rule out other diseases which present similar symptoms. An MRI can reveal lesions on the patient’s brain and spinal cord. A lumbar puncture collects a small sample of spinal fluid, which is analyzed to rule out infections or other conditions with similar symptoms. Evoked potential tests measure electrical activity in the brain and spinal cord in order to know how quickly information travels down the patient’s nerve pathways. It is typical for a patient with MS symptoms to undergo multiple tests before receiving a diagnosis.
Symptoms vary for each patient. MS symptoms vary and are unpredictable, as no two people have the same symptoms. For some patients, symptoms are mild and for others, they are paralyzing. 80% of patients experience fatigue and many experience muscle weakness and difficulty with balance. Other symptoms include numbness and tingling in extremities, cognitive difficulties, and vision problems. Symptoms may also increase over time, as the disease progresses.
How Specialty Pharmacies Help MS Patients
Living with chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis can be difficult, and specialty pharmacies like PFSP go beyond just providing a refill. Specialty pharmacies work directly with the prescriber and patient to create a detailed treatment plan. They help navigate treatments, manage side effects, and avoid drug interactions by helping patients navigate each step of their treatment plan- leading to higher medication adherence and fewer relapses. Many treatments for MS come with strict protocols and specialty pharmacies are able to deliver personalized care with guidance and education to help patients adhere to a treatment’s protocols. Continual communication, health status assessments, and therapy management programs can help patients be on their way to daily comfort and success. Overall, specialty pharmacies are able to give patients better treatment outcomes with fewer side effects and less frequent relapses- helping patients move towards normalcy and greater quality of life.
PFSP Specialty Pharmacy provides patients and their physicians an exceptionally high standard of care with our growing team of specialized pharmacists and staff. Our dedicated team of pharmacists focus on improving adherence for patients and work to find an approach that works best for them. Bringing a fresh take on what a Specialty Pharmacy can and should be, we are committed to the care of our patients. We take pride in being an ethical resource within our community and strive each day to help our patients live enriching and full lives.