More MS news articles for Nov 2001

MS Pathways(SM) Rated Most Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Support Program By Patients, According to Survey

Mon, Nov 05 8:33 AM EST

MONTVILLE, N.J., Nov. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Berlex Laboratories, Inc., the U.S. affiliate of Schering AG, Germany (NYSE:SHR) and the distributor of Betaseron(R) (interferon beta-1b) for SC Injection, today announced that multiple sclerosis (MS) patients using the company's MS Pathways program indicated higher levels of satisfaction with a patient support program than patients using other company-sponsored support programs. The findings come from a patient perception survey conducted by Timely Data Resources, Inc. on behalf of Berlex.

Among other topics, the survey compared patients' use of and satisfaction with three widely used programs -- Berlex's MS Pathways, Biogen, Inc.'s Active Source(SM), and Teva Marions' Shared Solutions(TM). Biogen manufactures Avonex(R) (interferon beta-1a) and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd. manufactures Copaxone(R) (glatiramir acetate).

The results showed that patients who use MS Pathways reported, on a scale of 1-10, a higher level of satisfaction (mean = 9.3) than that of patients using Active Source (mean = 8.5) or Shared Solutions (mean = 8.3). These differences were statistically significant (see the "About the Survey" section).

"Because recently-diagnosed people with MS often are anxious when faced with a chronic, disabling condition that may require a lifetime of treatment, care for the disease goes beyond simply taking medication. It includes support to help people deal with the physical and emotional hardships of MS," said Ralph Makar, Vice President, Marketing, Therapeutics. "People with the disease appreciate the information and services of a customized care program, and often, the more comprehensive the program, the more favorably a patient will view his or her MS treatment. These data show that patients on Betaseron are more satisfied with MS Pathways than Avonex and Copaxone patients are with their respective programs."

McKesson Health Solutions, a business unit of McKesson Corporation, is the administrator of the MS Pathways program.

Expansion to World Wide Web

Berlex also announced the debut of the online version of MS Pathways - MS, located at MS offers resources and educational materials to help people learn about MS, overcome personal challenges, find support, understand health insurance, and administer Betaseron and help manage its side effects.

Sections on the site include the following:

"MS builds on Berlex's leadership role as a provider of practical solutions for the entire MS community," said Mr. Makar. "By simplifying the way patients get information on a range of topics and enabling 24-hour access, the Web site serves as virtual support for MS patients and their families. It also complements the MS Pathways toll-free number, 1-800-788-1467, providing an additional outlet to learn about the disease and its management and communicate with healthcare professionals."

About the Survey

The survey, "MS Patients' Perceptions of Avonex(R), Betaseron(R), and Copaxone(R)," was conducted by Timely Data Resources, Inc. (TDR) during July 2000, and was underwritten by Berlex Laboratories. TDR completed telephone interviews with 150 MS patients between the ages of 20 and 70 who had been using their respective therapies for at least three months. (Fifty patients were using Avonex, 50 were using Betaseron, and 50 were using Copaxone.) The survey sought to determine patients' perceptions of the safety, efficacy, and convenience of these three MS treatments. People utilizing a company- sponsored patient support program rated their satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 10 (1, not at all satisfied; 10, completely satisfied). Avonex and Copaxone patients were recruited randomly from MS support groups, online MS discussion groups, and referrals from other MS patients. Betaseron patients were recruited from a list of people who had signed waivers to participate in market research studies. Statistically significant comparisons were made among the three patient groups, with differences reported either at 90 or 95 percent confidence levels.

About Multiple Sclerosis

MS is a disease of the central nervous system affecting the brain and spinal cord. It is estimated to affect up to 350,000 people in the United States, and is the major acquired neurologic disease in young adults. People who develop MS may not immediately recognize their condition because the symptoms of MS are nonspecific and may be similar to those of other diseases. Common signs and symptoms of MS include fatigue, psychological and cognitive changes, weakness or paralysis of limbs, numbness, vision problems, speech difficulties, problems with walking or motor skills, bladder problems, and sexual dysfunction.

About Betaseron

Betaseron was the first therapy approved in the United States to treat relapsing-remitting MS. People with this form of MS typically have mild to moderate disability with EDSS scores of 0-5.5. About 50 percent of people with the relapsing-remitting disease advance into the secondary progressive form within 10 years. Betaseron is approved for secondary progressive MS in Europe, Canada, and Australia. In these regions, it is the only approved therapy for the treatment of both the relapsing-remitting form as well as the more advanced secondary progressive form of MS. Currently, in the United States, Betaseron is not approved for secondary progressive MS.

Betaseron provides patients with 250 mcg (8 MIUs) of medicine every other day, for a total of 875 mcg (28 MIUs) per week. Serious side effects include depression, suicide, suicidal ideation, and injection site necrosis (skin breakdown, drainage of fluid and tissue destruction), which have been reported in 5 percent of patients in a controlled MS trial. The necrotic lesions are typically 3cm or less in diameter, but larger areas have been reported, and they may occur at single or multiple sites. You should be aware of the importance of rotating areas of injection with each dose, and of consulting with your physician if you experience any of the above signs or symptoms. (See "Warnings," "Precautions," and "Adverse Reactions" sections of Prescribing Information.)

Common side effects of Betaseron therapy include flu-like symptoms, shortness of breath, menstrual disorders, and injection site reactions (redness, pain, swelling, and blue-black discoloration have been reported).

OTC analgesics such as acetaminophen may be used to help relieve some of the common side effects of fever or muscle aches. Please talk to your physician about additional ways to manage these side effects.

About Berlex Laboratories

Committed to developing novel diagnostics and therapeutics that address unmet medical needs, Berlex Laboratories, Inc., the U.S. affiliate of Schering AG, Germany (NYSE:SHR), researches, develops, manufactures, and markets ethical pharmaceuticals in five strategic areas: Female Healthcare, Diagnostic Imaging, Dermatology, Oncology, and Therapeutics for life-threatening and disabling diseases. Berlex Laboratories, Inc. has business operations in Montville and Wayne, New Jersey and in Richmond, California. For more information about Berlex and its products, you may visit our Web site at

In order to utilize the "Safe Harbor" provision of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, the Company is providing the following cautionary statement. Certain statements in this press release that are neither reported financial results nor other historical information are forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, statements that are predictions of or indicate future events, trends, plans or objectives. Undue reliance should not be placed on such statements because, by their nature, they are subject to known and unknown risks and uncertainties and can be affected by other factors that could cause actual results and Company plans and objectives to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements (or from the past results). Although not exhaustive, the following factors could cause such differences: action by the Company's competitors or the failure or demand for the Company's products to develop as anticipated; legislative and regulatory changes and general changes in public health and approaches to health care and the treatment of ideas; unanticipated difficulties in the design or implementation of clinical trials, studies and investigations, or results that are inconsistent with previous results and the Company's expectations; the failure to obtain and maintain required authorizations from governmental authorities or the loss of or inability to patent or trademark protection for products; the risk of substantial product liability claims; unexpected costs or difficulties in production or distribution or in integrating the business and operations of the Company. These factors and other factors that could effect these forward-looking statements are described in our Form 20-F and our Form 6-K reports filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The Company disclaims any obligation to publicly update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether to reflect new information or future events or circumstance or otherwise.

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