More MS news articles for Oct 2001

Americans Confident in Leaders' Abilities Despite Multiple Sclerosis, 'West Wing'-Inspired Survey Says

Wed, Oct 10 1:45 PM EDT

MONTVILLE, N.J., Oct. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Multiple Sclerosis (MS) would not shake most Americans' confidence in elected officials, reports a new national survey conducted by RoperASW. According to the survey, nearly eight out of 10 people (77 percent) who are aware of MS would remain confident in a leader's ability to perform his or her job duties despite the disease. Sixty percent say that MS would not affect their decisions to reelect a community leader with the disease.

The survey is similar to a fictional poll conducted last season on the top-rated program, "The West Wing," in which President Josiah Bartlet (played by actor Martin Sheen), who suffers from MS and is treated with the prescription medication Betaseron(R) (interferon beta-1b) for SC Injection, struggled with the decision to reveal his illness prior to re-election. The show's season premiere, on NBC tonight at 9 p.m. EDT, picks up from last year's finale when President Bartlet was set to announce his plans for another run for office.

"Since MS is a chronic disease that can cause fatigue, speech problems, and changes in cognitive functions, public wariness over an elected official with MS is certainly conceivable," said neurologist Richard Blanck, M.D., of the Neurological Associates of Long Island, and Clinical Assistant Professor, New York University School of Medicine. "Yet the findings show that Americans surveyed accurately perceive that many patients with the disease can remain active in their endeavors and contribute meaningfully to society."

For example, Delbert Richardson, who was diagnosed with MS in 1998, is currently cycling from California to Washington D.C. to raise awareness of the prevalence of the disease among minorities and to show those who are newly diagnosed that MS isn't necessarily disabling.

"It's important to understand that MS is not debilitating to all patients, and a positive attitude definitely goes a long way," said Richardson. "Since I've been diagnosed with MS, I've been able to overcome the physical and emotional hurdles associated with the disease. During this time, I've achieved major life goals."

The survey, which was funded by Berlex Laboratories Inc., also revealed:

About the Survey

The West Wing Multiple Sclerosis Survey 2001 was conducted by RoperASW during October 2001, and was underwritten by 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. RoperASW completed telephone interviews with 1,022 U.S. adults ages 18 and over. The survey sought to assess American attitudes about MS and people in power.

About MS

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.

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).

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

About RoperASW

RoperASW, an NOP World Company, is one of the world's leading survey research and consulting firms. For over 75 years RoperASW has provided syndicated and custom research services to major corporations, media and government agencies.

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