Oral medication is the leading choice for MS treatment

July 18, 2023
The majority of individuals with multiple sclerosis treat the chronic and progressive neurological disorder with oral medications, likely because of many factors, including convenience, consumer advertising, and approval by health insurers, according to a new study.

The study – by researchers at Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research – examined a large and diverse sample of commercially insured adults and children in the U.S. to evaluate trends in uptake of therapies between 2001 and 2020 for patients with MS.

In 2000, there were two medications approved for MS treatment in the U.S., but during the past 20 years, more than 10 new medications have been approved. Research on how these approvals have changed clinical practice has been limited. The Rutgers study shows injectable therapies accounted for nearly 100 percent of medications for MS patients in 2001, but by 2020 that decreased to about 25 percent, with oral therapies rising sharply after their introduction in 2010.

Using commercial claims data from more than 100,000 patients with MS between 2001 and 2020, researchers analyzed injectable, infusion, and oral treatment trends. They found that oral medications increased sharply in popularity to become the preferable treatment for MS patients over infusion and injectable treatments. Infusion therapies remained low in uptake, accounting for about 8 percent of therapy initiations in 2020, and platform injectable therapy use declined almost 74 percent throughout the study period.

The study’s authors suggest this investigation offers a crucial step in understanding the evolving treatment landscape for MS patients and future research should evaluate the effect of new therapies as they emerge.

The study was published in JAMA Neurology.

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