A PhRMA report, titled “A Decade of Innovation in Chronic Diseases,” examined advances made in the treatment of several chronic health conditions, including multiple sclerosis (MS), over the past 10 years that have helped patients to avoid disease complications and hospitalizations, and improve their quality of life.
Chronic diseases such as MS, diabetes, high cholesterol, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV/AIDS, and hepatitis C, are among the most complex and important healthcare challenges of our time, both in human and financial terms, PhRMA reported. Seven out of 10 deaths in the United States are due to chronic health conditions, and about half of all American adults have one or more of these diseases. Patients with chronic diseases are also frequent users of medical care, accounting for 81 percent of all hospital admissions and 76 percent of physician visits. Treating these diseases is hugely expensive, with 86 cents of every healthcare dollar spent in the U.S. going toward a chronic illness.
However, in the last decade, the biopharmaceutical industry has made notable progress in better treating these disorders, the organization said in a press release.
In the years leading up to 2006, for instance, MS patients had several treatment options that were effective, and a number are still in use. However, these medicines were usually injected or infused, and often resulted in painful site reactions and challenging side effects.
Between 2006 and 2016, in contrast, the report noted that the number of MS treatment options — and their means of administration — has expanded in important ways. Currently, three oral disease-modifying medicines are available, offering more convenient therapy options with fewer side effects. MS patients can better choose how and when to take their medication to fit their needs, increasing overall compliance and leading to better treatment outcomes.
Today, a total of 40 medicines are being developed to treat the disease, with several aimed at patients with progressive MS who currently lack treatment options.
Similar biopharmaceutical advances in the treatment of diabetes, HIV/AIDs, cholesterol, and rheumatoid arthritis are also highlighted in the report.
MS is a chronic autoimmune disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks myelin, a substance that coats nerve fibers. The disease affects more than 400,000 Americans and 2.3 million people worldwide. MS can emerge at any age, but people living with MS are often diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. Common MS symptoms include fatigue, walking difficulties, numbness, spasticity, muscle stiffness, vision, bladder and sexual problems, pain, cognitive and emotional changes, and depression.
PhRMA, or the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, is an organization representing major biopharmaceutical researchers and biotechnology companies in the U.S.