More MS news articles for August 2002

Getting Disease-Modifying Drugs in the U.S.

InsideMS; Summer 2002; Vol. 20, Issue 3
Dorothy Northrop, MSW, ACSW

Many readers of J.K. Rowling’s article will identify with her feelings of frustration and bitterness as she watched her mother’s MS progress without treatments and therapies that might have helped. Her poignant statement that there is a better chance of being prescribed an MS-modifying drug in Turkey than in the United Kingdom points to a disturbing reality. In spite of the existence of MS drugs that reduce relapses, reduce brain lesion development, and slow progression of disability, there are many people with MS who have no access to them.

In the United States, approximately 50% of people with MS are taking one of the disease-modifying therapies. But in recent years, insurance coverage for prescription medications has steadily eroded. To control costs, health insurers have increased prescription drug premiums and co-pays, limited benefits, converted drug coverage to major medical, and limited or “tiered” their formularies, which are lists of covered medications.

If you are experiencing changes like these in your prescription coverage, and your disease-modifying therapy is being priced beyond your reach, it is important to challenge and appeal such decisions. Even if you are currently satisfied with your insurance coverage, we suggest the following steps:

If you encounter prescription drug coverage problems: Dorothy Northrop, MSW, ACSW, is the director of Clinical Programs at the National MS Society’s Professional Resource Center.

© 2002 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society