MS, a progressive neurological disease which causes both physical and mental disability in early adulthood, is thought to affect 2.5 million people globally and to be responsible for €15.5 billion worth of indirect and direct medical and non-medical costs in Europe each year. These costs are higher than the equivalent for long-term conditions such as asthma and diabetes.
While the overall causative factor is not yet known, what is known is that the immune system mistakenly attacks and damages the myelin sheath around the axons of nerves in the brain, spinal cord and optic nerve. The resulting inflammation, damage and destruction is generally irreversible and leads to brain atrophy and a host of symptoms including reduced fine motor control, cognitive impairment, depression and anxiety.
Despite the evolution of the diagnostic and treatment paradigm for MS, there is still evidence that both within- and between-country variation remains in management approaches. This white paper summarises a number of recommendations made in two recent reports which highlighted these differences. These recommendations span four areas: (a) diagnosis, (b) treatment initiation, (c) management and (d) evidence base/data generation (and associated healthcare system response).