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Fewer MS patients are prescribed DMTs in UK compared to Europe

The study analysed and compared information from 65,000 MS patients.

A new study conducted by the MS Society has revealed why people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the UK are less likely to receive disease-modifying treatments (DMTs) in comparison to four other European countries.

Researchers compared 65,000 people diagnosed with MS from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and the UK using registries including the UK MS Register.

Currently, there are around 20 DMTs available for people living with MS on the NHS, including Lemtrada (alemtuzumab) and Mavenclad (cladribine).

In an effort to understand why DMTs were prescribed differently, researchers investigated the health systems in these countries.

They discovered that a country’s regulations had a major impact on whether DMTs were prescribed to patients.

Researchers found that reviews for DMTs, known as audits, to check the treatments are a cause of DMT prescriptions falling in the UK, as other countries did not do this.

However, while fewer people in the UK are on DMTs, because of the audit checks, more people are on the right DMT.

Another factor researchers found was the availability of MS centres and experts in the UK, limiting the use of DMTs.

Similarly to Germany, there are currently around 130,000 people in the UK living with the lifelong condition. However, there are three times the number of MS centres in Germany compared to the UK.

Additionally, a diagnosis of relapsing or progressive MS could have a significant impact on whether patients have access to DMTs.

“Research like this is vital to understand how people with MS are impacted by healthcare systems,” said Dr Clare Walton, head of research at the MS Society.

She added: “For years, neurology services in the UK have been neglected, underfunded, and deprioritised. Improving access to neurologists and MS specialists is key to improving the treatment landscape and quality of life for people living with MS. The government must take action by working with the NHS to build a sustainable neurology workforce.”