Thousands of Australians living with the most common form of multiple sclerosis (MS), relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) have today gained access to a new treatment option listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Zeposia is an oral treatment for adult patients with relapsing forms of MS, which alters immune system activity to help reduce the frequency of attacks to the central nervous system.
Affecting more than 25,600 Australians, MS is a condition that interferes with nerve impulses within the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.
MS Australia CEO, Mr Rohan Greenland, welcomed the reimbursement of this new treatment option for those living with RRMS.
“While research is advancing into the cause, prevention and cure of the disease, to date, MS remains incurable. Treatment can, however, help people with MS manage their symptoms, relapses, and importantly, slow disability progression,” said Mr Greenland.
“The PBS listing of Zeposia represents a valuable addition to the repertoire of affordable treatments available to those living with RRMS in Australia.”
The announcement is exciting news for those living with the condition, including Learning Support teacher, children’s storybook author, and mother-to-three, Nadine, 49, Sydney.
Nadine was diagnosed with RRMS by her neurologist seven years ago.
“Everyone’s journey with MS is completely different, from the symptoms we face, to the realities of managing the disease,” said Nadine.
“MS has an impact on our physical and emotional well-being, and I am passionate about sharing my experience to help shed light on the variable nature of symptoms.
“My symptoms come in cycles, as is the nature of RRMS. Fatigue can hit me hard, and quite suddenly, like the flick of a switch, which prevents me from working full-time, and impacts my daily activities.
“I just try to get on with my life as much as possible and take each day as it comes. I’m fortunate my symptoms have been fairly manageable, but MS is such an unpredictable disease and I live in fear it may all change overnight,” Nadine said.
Clinical Associate Professor Todd Hardy, Co-Director of the MS Clinic, Brain and Mind Centre, The University of Sydney, commented on the importance of patient access to help those like Nadine manage their condition.
“In Australia, patient access is enhanced by the availability of RRMS treatment options via the PBS,” A/Prof Hardy said.
“Treatment for MS must be tailored to the individual, given the highly varying and unpredictable nature of the disease.
“As clinicians, we welcome the availability of an additional treatment option to help reduce the frequency of relapses, and slow the progression of disability in our patients living with RRMS.
RRMS represents 85 per cent of MS diagnoses, and is marked by relapses of new, or worsened symptoms or ‘attacks’, which can last for days or months, with intervals of partial, or complete remission in between.
MS can cause cognitive symptoms, including brain fog, slow thinking, and impaired memory and concentration, in addition to personal and emotional changes, anxiety, depression, and difficulties sleeping.
For more information visit the MS Australia website.