Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a primary autoimmune disease in which inflammation is a core contributor to the degeneration of the central nervous system (CNS), leading to neurological disability and affecting sensory, visual, motor, and autonomic systems. While MS is not a terminal diagnosis, the effect of the disease on the CNS can significantly impact patients’ independence and disturb their daily lives.
Currently, most patients face the prospect of life-long treatment with MS medications, as the main objectives of available disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) are to reduce the frequency of relapses and to delay the accumulation of disability. However, they cannot provide a cure and have a very limited impact on halting disease progression.
DMTs for MS have a high price tag, particularly in the US. According to GlobalData’s recent Multiple Sclerosis: Seven-Market Drug Forecast and Market Analysis to 2030 – Update report, which identified 19 DMTs marketed for MS in the US, the average annual cost of therapy increased by 9% between 2020 and 2022. For some DMTs, such as Biogen’s Tysabri (natalizumab), Sanofi’s Lemtrada (alemtuzumab), and Novartis’s Gilenya (fingolimod) and Mayzent (siponimod), the annual cost of therapy rose by as much as 12%. A similar trend of price increases was also seen for MS generics and biosimilars.
Key opinion leaders (KOLs) interviewed by GlobalData emphasised that the high cost of DMTs for MS can have a major impact on patients, their families, and society. This economic burden may deter some patients from seeking treatment, while others might decide to stop taking their treatment altogether.
The development and approval of safe and reliable curative therapies would be a major breakthrough in the treatment of MS, with considerable implications for patients’ financial circumstances and health-related quality of life. KOLs believe that there is a large unmet need for curative therapies in MS, especially for agents that could stop the progress of neurodegeneration such as remyelination therapies, of which there are several in early-stage development. While KOLs are generally optimistic about the prospects of curative MS therapies gaining approval in the long term, they do not expect curative therapies to enter the market within the next few years. None of the late-stage agents in development are curative therapies, and their main role is to reduce disease progression and the number of relapses experienced by patients.