Multiple sclerosis

Last updated on January 29, 2018

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system, which consists of the spinal cord, brain and optic nerves. MS occurs when the immune system attacks myelin, the fatty substance that surrounds and insulates the nerve fibers, and the nerve fibers themselves.1 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society estimates that 400,000 people nationwide and 2.3 million people worldwide are affected by multiple sclerosis.2 MS can be difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms are similar to other neurologic diseases. Symptoms include blurred vision, weak and stiff muscles, numbness, dizziness and bladder control problems.3

Doctors don’t know the exact reason why MS develops in some people and not in others. Genetics play a role in susceptibility to MS. Having a family member with MS increases your chances of getting it. People who live closer to the equator and get more sunlight and vitamin D have less risk of developing MS. Smoking has been proven to increase the likelihood of developing MS. Certain viruses, especially Epstein Barr virus (causes mononucleosis), can be responsible for the onset of MS. The tissues and antibodies in the blood of MS patients are similar to those of patients with other autoimmune diseases, which suggests that a disturbed regulation of the immune system causes MS.4 Women, people ages 15 to 60, white people, especially those of Northern European descent and people with certain autoimmune diseases (e.g., type 1 diabetes, thyroid disease) are more likely to develop MS.5

Although currently no cure exists for MS, there are various medicines used to treat it, which can be very expensive. According to Healthline, MS costs between $8,525 and $54,244 per patient per year to treat and is the second most expensive disease after congestive heart failure.6 The medications can be taken via an injection under the skin or in the muscle, through an infusion or orally.7

For those who must take injections, it is important to correctly dispose of the used needles in sharps containers, which can be purchased at drugstores or pharmacies. Sharps Compliance offers containers have a mailback option in which customers mail the filled container to a treatment facility. If no mailback option is available, patients may check if their cities have collection sites, where they will take filled containers. Several states have passed legislation making it illegal to throw sharps into household trash, so be sure to determine the safest method of disposal that meets all state requirements.

Sharps Compliance offers a Patient Support Program for pharmaceutical manufacturers. This program allows customers to safely and conveniently dispose of their sharps, while manufacturers are able to collect valuable data. This data can be used to increase adherence, design treatment mechanisms and protocols and guide conversations with payers about reimbursement and formulary position.

1 National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014
1 Definition of MS
2 MS Prevalence
3 Multiple Sclerosis: Hope Through Research
4 See FN 3.
5 Risk Factors
6  Multiple Sclerosis by the Numbers
7 How Is MS Treated?