While the benefits of early and long-term MS therapy have been documented, there are questions about MS medication I can’t help but ask.

First, why are the costs for the 4 MS therapies so similar?

I’ve just checked the prices on Drugstore.com for a typical one-month supply of each of the four MS “therapies”. Here is what I found on January 29, 2008 (in alphabetical order):

Avonex (Four 30mcg/0.5ml Syringes) $1,720.99
Betaseron (15 vials 0.3mg Solution) $1,699.99
Copaxone (1 box of 30 prefilled syringes $1,886.89
Rebif (6 ml, 44mcg/0.5ml Solution) $1,893.62

These four medications were developed at different times, by different companies, and are manufactured differently. The difference in prices between the most expensive and the least expensive is only $193.63 per month. That amount may seem large, but it represents a price spread of only 10.2% of the cost of the most expensive, Rebif.

Also, where can one find a list of neurologists who have never benefited financially from an association with one of these companies?

I ponder this because of an article I read last night in the Wall Street Journal HealthBlog which quoted two MDs who are dismissive of one of the newer MS “therapies”. However, readers of the blog left comments indicating they believe the two docs may benefit from their relationships with another MS therapy manufacturer and, thus, their opinion may be tainted.

I’d like a list of doctors who haven’t been influenced, lobbied, etc.  It seems like a list a doctor would be proud to sign.

Here’s one that really makes me wonder. If the average time between exacerbations in Relapsing Remitting MS is two years, why does it seem many of drug studies I’ve read on Avonex, Betaseron, Copaxone and Rebif are limited to two years? I can’t help but wonder if this is by design so the studies are not negatively impacted by participants who cross the two year average and increase their chances of an exacerbation, thus ruining the desired outcome of the study.

And where can I find a study that compares all four of these medications against each other. I have found studies of each against a placebo (and some make placebos look pretty good … they have fewer side effects), but I can find no single study that compares Avonex against Betaseron against Copaxone against Rebif against a placebo.

So help me! If you can answer my questions or provide links to studies that can, please leave a message in the comments. I’d love to find the answers.

Caregiver Tip: Always ask questions.

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1 Comment on MS Medications: Questions I Ponder

  1. Joan says:

    Good questions! I hope SOMEONE has an answer, I sure don’t.

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