The Costs of Treating Multiple Sclerosis Are Skyrocketing

Multiple Sclerosis Costs of Treatment Rising

It Is Time to Speak Out About The Cost of Rising Medications

Listening to the morning news the other day, there was a topic that peaked my interest. It was about the rising costs of medications that treat chronic diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis. In this news article they were talking about that cost of medications have doubled even tripled in costs over the years and that there is NO regulatory process to stop pharmaceutical companies from doing this. Initially when companies produced a drug that is FDA approved, the cost of that medication is high so that the company can recoup it’s cost from the research, production, and marketing of the drug. One would think that after it has been on the market for a period of time and these costs have been recovered, that it would either decline or at least stabilize in costs, but that is simply not the case.

This raises concerns for me, as a MS patient, of what the future holds for all of us who suffer not only from our devastating disease but for everyone who is stricken with a chronic disease. I am fortunate to be covered by a private insurance plan through my husband’s employer but even with having this, each year our policy changes costing us more out of pocket through premiums increases, higher deductibles, and paying more co-insurance responsibilities. It makes me wonder how others who have no insurance or is on medicare or medicaid programs afford their medications. Many of these people are given such a small choice of approved medications on their list to treat MS and still have a large out-of-pocket amount to pay. Those without coverage is drastically trying to received financial help through different sources to obtain these drugs.

Even treatments such as physical therapy, and tests such as a MRI do not come cheap, making it even more difficult to afford what we need to be diagnosed and treated correctly. I have never been a “Big Government” person but honestly something needs to be done to help correct this situation. It has been said over and over the sicker you are the less likely you will be considered for a recommended treatment, almost like you are past any type of help and resources are needed for by focused on the healthier individuals. I have even overheard from a reliable source that if you have progressive MS that research and medications are not being made or approved for treatment for this type. What does this mean for our future? It doesn’t sound promising especially since I do have progressive MS.

I can tell you that when I  initially received Campath for my treatment back in 2007, before it was really in a study phase and called Lemtrada, the cost of my treatment was $6,500 for a treatment that was given once a year. Of course with me receiving it now, it is through a study and there is not a cost involved for me to receive. There was one year when it was not yet approved through a study, when I was told it was not affordable at all for purchase. The $6,500 was just a drop in the bucket to what I was paying, $1,500 a month for an approved medication. If this drug is approved, it will be interesting to see what the cost will end up being for everyone.

So what is the solution? It seems like we as a “MS Community” needs to shout out to Congress, House of Representatives, and our state leaders to hear our pleas for intervention. The FDA approves medications but are not responsible for what price tag is put on them. I’m not against companies making money but it saddens me to know that in our economy when it is already difficult to make ends meet, that we are also at the mercy of unregulated pharmaceutical companies driven to make the all might dollar. We need to be making noise to who ever will listen that enough is enough. When the government can put extra tax on liquor, cigarettes, sodas, and now in some states unhealthy foods, then why can’t they regulate prices on health care and medications?

Stu’s Views and News published an article on the courts overturning a lower court’s ruling to allow  pharmaceutical companies to make a generic drug for the treatment of MS. Could this be our answer? If this is going to be allowed to happen surely this will drop the costs for many of us. Generic medications have been an answer to lowering costs on many other medications making it possible for people to receive a treatment that otherwise would not have been affordable, such in treatment of high blood pressure or diabetes to just to name a few. With this announcement, this is no time to sit back to see what happens, so I encourage all of you to make some noise by writing, emailing, or calling those in positions to help us. One person can make a difference but if you put all of us together shouting out just imagine what a difference that can make. The end results will affect us all!


MS Blogger and Multiple Sclerosis Activist shares her journey living with MS, tips for others living MS and her husband, Steve, offers his insight as a caregiver for MS.
  • mbrsinc

    Sorry, I posted this under the wrong topic previously.

    Sounds like an ad for Obamacare which is reportedly not covering the cost of many accepted MS drugs and has few if any MS specialists in their network. We learned decades ago that price controls don’t work. Perhaps the answer is in getting the government out of the way thereby allowing easier, less risky access to pharmaceutical competitors to bring important innovative drugs to market unencumbered by the highly political FDA. You need look no further than the long, tortured history of alemtuzumab, a drug that has been used to successfully treat MS for 20 years and you have had access to for 7 years while several companies have made huge investments to satisfy government regulators. My God, alemtuzumab is still not approved in the US! You started a petition to try to get the FDA out of the way. The typical drug costs over $1 billion to get to market and the marketplace for MS is small. I am very grateful for the risk takers and greatly fear that more government intrusion will only serve to deter them from innovating further. You made some good observations regarding access to insurance (could have been easily solved for relatively little money), the high costs of drugs, etc.; but let’s don’t kid ourselves into thinking that this government (think of IRS, FDA, EPA) can help except by getting out of the way and let’s see the free enterprise system work! – mbrsinc

    • That’s okay. Thanks for the comment. Glad you took the time to respond. I’ve read it (both times– HA!). – Lisa