"Recent clinical evidence shows that diagnosing and treating relapsing forms of MS as early as possible may help slow disease progression, and this survey provides interesting insight into how some neurologists are beginning to embrace that data," said Barry G.W. Arnason, M.D., professor of neurology, James Nelson and Anna Louise Raymond professor, University of Chicago. "It is important that we continue this dialogue publicly, particularly given the challenges in early diagnosis of relapsing forms of MS. The first symptoms can be so mild that people do not suspect MS nor visit their doctor."
Irreversible damage to nerve fibers (called axons) can occur in the early stages of MS, even before any permanent symptoms are apparent. Brain lesions also can occur in the early stages of the disease and damage continues even when the person has no symptoms of an attack and feels well. Therefore, MS specialists advise the early use of a drug that effectively helps limit lesion formation, reduce relapse rate and possibly slow disability progression.
The majority of neurologists surveyed indicate that they believe MS patients live, on average, three to four years with the condition before diagnosis or treatment. Yet, 79 percent of respondents indicate that brain and spinal MRI may support the diagnosis of relapsing MS following the first clinical attack. More than half (59 percent) say they would recommend starting treatment with prescription medication after the first clinical attack suggestive of MS, which is in line with recently published scientific data. Currently, in the U.S., in many cases the diagnosis and initiation of MS therapy takes place after the second clinical attack.
The survey was conducted to support The Image of MS, a photographic exhibit created to raise awareness and encourage those with symptoms of relapsing forms of MS to seek diagnosis and treatment as early as possible. For more information, visit www.imageofms.com.
Of the neurologists surveyed, nearly all (99 percent) agree that long-term data play an important role in choosing a prescription medication.
MS is a disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS). Approximately 400,000 Americans are currently diagnosed with MS and there are 200 new cases being identified each week.
The cause of MS is unknown, but it is thought to be an autoimmune disease. In MS, the body attacks its own nervous system, potentially causing irreversible damage. This nerve damage causes the symptoms commonly associated with MS. Symptoms vary from person to person and can range from numbness and tingling and double vision to fatigue, slurred speech and weakness in one or more limbs.
Relapsing-remitting MS is a lifelong condition requiring long-term treatment. As such, long-term efficacy, safety and tolerability are important.
In choosing a disease-modifying therapy, interferon beta medication is the top recommendation among survey respondents for both the early (94 percent) and late (95 percent) stages of relapsing-remitting MS, an observation that is in line with the findings of an American Academy of Neurology (AAN) panel, which observed that interferon beta therapies have the strongest and most consistent evidence of effectiveness, and that high dose, high frequency interferon beta appears to be more effective in fighting MS than low dose, low frequency interferon beta.
The Image of MS and the neurologist survey are sponsored by Berlex, Inc., marketers of Betaseron® (interferon beta-1b).
Betaseron is indicated for the treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis to reduce the frequency of clinical exacerbations. The most commonly reported adverse reactions are lymphopenia, injection site reaction, asthenia, flu-like symptom complex, headache, and pain. Betaseron should be used with caution in patients with depression. Injection site necrosis has been reported in 5 percent of patients in controlled trials. Patients should be advised of the importance of rotating injection sites. Female patients should be warned about the potential risk to pregnancy. Cases of anaphylaxis have been reported rarely. Please see full Prescribing Information for more information.
Berlex, a U.S. affiliate of Schering AG, Germany (FSE: SCH; NYSE: SHR), is committed to addressing unmet medical needs through research and development in the areas of oncology, gastroenterology, women's health, diagnostics and neurology. Berlex also markets diagnostic imaging agents, innovative treatments in the areas of female health care and oncology, as well as specialized therapeutics for life-threatening and disabling diseases of the central nervous system and cardiovascular system. Berlex has business operations in New Jersey, California and Washington states. For more information, please visit www.berlex.com.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The survey – conducted by International Communications Research, Media, Pa., and sponsored by Berlex Inc., as part of The Image of MS initiative – was fielded via the Internet to 201 neurologists between December 16 and December 23, 2005. The objective of the survey was to access current trends in the diagnosis and treatment of MS. As such, respondents were asked questions specifically related to the diagnosis and treatment of people with MS. The margin of error for this sample size is +/- 6.9 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.
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 Berlex's plans and objectives to differ materially from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements. Berlex, Inc. undertakes no obligation to update publicly or revise any of these forward-looking statements, whether to reflect new information or future events or circumstances or otherwise.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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