The Society launches initiative to make MS medications affordable, simple and transparent
— When Abigail Bostwick, 36, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2013, she never thought it would hit her as hard as it has — not physically — but financially.
“Our savings quickly drained. We’ve sold a lot of our things. We live paycheck to paycheck,” said Bostwick.
Like many people living with MS, Bostwick has struggled to afford her MS medications and navigate the complicated system of prescription medication insurance coverage.
People with MS report high and rapidly escalating medication prices, increasing out-of-pocket costs, confusing and inconsistent formularies (lists of medications covered by an insurance plan), and complex approval processes that stand in the way of getting the treatments they need. These challenges can cause delays in starting a medication or changing medications when a treatment is no longer working. Delays may result in new MS activity (risking disease progression without recovery) and cause even more stress and anxiety about the future for people already living with the complex challenges and unpredictability of MS.
“It is time for change,” said Cyndi Zagieboylo, President and CEO of the National MS Society. “People with chronic illnesses need to have confidence that they’ll be able to get the life-changing medication they need.”
In 2004, the average annual cost for MS medications was $16,000; today it is $78,000
— that’s an increase of nearly 400 percent
The Society is launching “Make MS Medications Accessible,” calling on leadership from all parties involved — pharmaceutical companies, insurance providers, pharmacy benefit managers, specialty pharmacies, healthcare providers, policy makers, people with MS and others — to work together to focus on getting people with MS the medications they need to live their best lives.
Medications can only change lives if people can access them. Medications — and the process for getting them — must be affordable
The Society encourages the MS community to get involved by contacting their candidates running for public office and asking them to support access to medications.
“No single stakeholder has all the solutions; we can only find the solutions together,” said Zagieboylo.