Flachenecker P, Rieckmann P.
Department of Neurology and Clinical Research Group for Neuroimmunology, Julius-Maximilians University, Wurzburg, Germany.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is thought to be a chronic inflammatory disorder of the CNS.
The past decade has seen the introduction of the new immunomodulatory drugs, interferon (IFN)-beta and glatiramer acetate, that have considerably improved the therapeutic options for this often disabling disease.
The efficacy of these treatments in terms of reducing relapse rate and slowing progression has been proven in several large, multicentre, randomised, controlled trials.
Similarly, early IFNbeta treatment of patients with clinically isolated syndromes suggestive of MS has been shown to lengthen time to conversion into definite MS.
Cost-effectiveness has been questioned with the increasing use of these innovative and, therefore, costly therapies; however, modern studies with appropriate economic modelling suggest that treatment with IFNbeta may indeed be cost-effective.
Since increasing disability is associated with increasing costs, stabilisation of the disease at low functional grades of disability should aim at not only improving quality of life for the individual patient, but provide for prospective cost-benefit analysis focussing on the socioeconomic aspects of MS.