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Tag: DMT

Are MS Drugs Effective?

When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999, there were three “disease-modifying therapies” (DMTs) available to treat multiple sclerosis. Now there are more than ten pharmaceutical drug options on the market for people diagnosed with MS to try in the hopes of slowing down the progression and minimizing the severity of the course of the disease. Taking a DMT has become the “standard of care” in Western medicine, and most MS patients experience significant pressure from neurologists to choose one as their main treatment for the disease.

Expensive Medicine

According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, as of February 2022, the median annual price of a brand-name disease-modifying therapy was close to $94,000. Even with insurance covering part of the bill, out-of pocket costs can still be thousands each month.

Back when I was diagnosed, I had private health insurance as an independent contractor. My health insurance covered some of the expense of the DMT, but in exchange they continually raised my rates so that soon I was paying more than five times the monthly fee as when I had signed up with the insurer. When I got married, my husband’s insurance (through his employer) deemed my MS diagnosis was a “pre-existing condition” and refused to cover it, effectively holding me hostage to my original insurer and their ever-more costly bills. It was years before the Affordable Heathcare Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, ruled that insurance companies couldn’t discriminate against pre-existing conditions, but by then I had paid tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket to simply be insured and not have to pay the full price of my medicine. At that time, the DMT I was on cost around $120,00 year without insurance.

Side Effects

Side effects vary from drug to drug, but can include flu-like symptoms of malaise and body aches, injection-site swelling, rashes, heart issues, brain damage, and even death. The side effects that I personally experienced during the years that I injected an MS disease-modifying therapy included three years of daily hives covering my entire body and regular injection-induced seizures.

Are the Drug Therapies Effective?

During the years I injected the disease-modifying therapy every day as prescribed by MS doctors, I continued to experience significant MS exacerbations at the rate of about one every ten months. Each exacerbation lasted around six to eight weeks. To me, this seemed to be pretty much the same disease course as I was experiencing before I started taking the drug.

This impression may not have been wrong as a new study out of Germany suggests that only three out of the ten MS disease-modifying drugs analyzed showed any benefit to the patient.

Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) report analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of ten drugs for adults with highly active Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS), which is my official diagnosis, and found the benefit to patient outcomes to be inconclusive.

That’s a big deal when the side effects of a medicine are debilitating with no proof that the drug is helping to either slow the progression or the severity of the disease course. For me, after a few years of dealing with awful side effects, it felt like the treatment was worse than the disease. I needed to find another way to deal with this disease in order to save myself not only from the effects of MS, but from the effects of the disease-modifying therapy.

It was amazing how much better I felt when I stopped taking the DMT. No more hives, no more seizures, more energy, happier. I worked hard to clean up my body and my life so that I wouldn’t incite another MS exacerbation, and it worked! My last major MS flare-up was in 2002, more than twenty years ago, and I am drug-free.

While I believe that once you have MS or another autoimmune disease you will always be a hypersensitive person, I have learned how to successfully manage my body with targeted diet and lifestyle changes so that I live symptom-free.

How to Treat MS without a DMT

Whether or not you choose to take a DMT, you deserve to know what is within your power to control the effects of MS! There is so much more that you can do to help yourself survive and thrive despite an MS diagnosis, but you won’t learn it at your doctor’s office.

When you are ready to take charge of your body and your life, reach out to me and I will tell you everything I have learned about taming multiple sclerosis (or any other chronic autoimmune condition)!