Today, accomplishments in research and treatment of MS are occurring at an accelerated pace -which is very encouraging.
Beginning in l993, researchers achieved some success with the introduction of a B Interferon (Betaseron®), the first USFDA-approved agent which effectively reduced the exacerbation rate of Multiple Sclerosis by a third. Soon afterwards, two additional pharmaceuticals were added - Avonex® in l996, a once-a-week intramuscular injection, and Copaxone® in l997, a daily subcutaneous injection, with the least side effects of any of the three approved drugs.
New findings highlight the urgent need to introduce therapeutic agents as soon as MS has been diagnosed.
Through the development of new therapies, the once grim outlook for MS patients was brightened with hope. To further expand availability of therapies and care to MS patients, Winthrop's Division of Neurology has established a Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Program at 200 Old Country Road, Suite 125, Mineola, readily accessible to individuals with impaired mobility. In this center of excellence, patients benefit from state-of-the-art treatment,
provided by a caring Nurse Practitioner, Kim Galante, RN, FNP, under the direction of Dr. Gottesman, and participate in clinical trials.
Winthrop's Division of Neurology is at the forefront of multi-center trials of MS therapies. Working closely with the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the New York State Multiple Sclerosis Consortium, Winthrop's MS Treatment Program also participates in the New York State MS Consortium (NYSMSC) Research Database, a collaborative effort of MS treatment centers funded by the New York State Department of Health. All Winthrop MS patients are encouraged to enroll in this important clinical research database.
New findings highlight the urgent need to introduce therapeutic agents as soon as MS has been diagnosed. Data from the first 2,109 patients in the NYSMSC study reveal a clear relationship between MS disease type, duration of disease, and severity of physical disability, emphasizing the importance of early therapy.
At Winthrop, the newest therapies are readily available to appropriate patients - including immunomodulating agents; IV steroids available in the office setting; and pharmacological agents which relieve symptoms. The Center also conducts basic science research.
The language describing therapies can be complex, but all MS patients and their families can easily relate to the individualized, superior care and ongoing monitoring provided through Winthrop's Multiple Sclerosis Program. Although patients may not fully understand the specific ways in which their therapies are working - drug interventions which might include IV steroids and IVIg (intravenous immunoglobulin therapy) - they ease symptoms and control MS progression.
Dr. Gottesman foresees even greater acceleration of the pace of treatment breakthroughs, with many promising medications currently in Phase III clinical trials. Now awaiting FDA approval is a new interferon beta 1a, known as Rebif®, which showed a 30% reduction in relapse rate in a large European clinical trial.
Promising results from another large European study indicate that Betaseron® is useful in treating secondary progressive MS. This data will be published in the near future. Dr. Gottesman anticipates that the FDA approved use of Interferons will be expanded to help patients with secondary progressive MS.
At Winthrop, patients also benefit from the Physician-Nurse Practitioner collaboration, which helps facilitate referrals with the varied therapists and specialists involved in patient care. For example, MS patients may be referred to urologists, gynecologists, psychologists, and back to their primary physicians for early aggressive treatment of common ailments - which can impact on their neurological symptoms. Many patients benefit from regular physical and occupational therapy. Neuropsychological evaluation is also available through Nancy Foldi, PhD, of the MS Program.
Have you been diagnosed with MS, or suspect that you have developed MS? Don't delay. Call Kim Galante, RN, FNP at 516/663-4525 to make your first appointment.