Approximately 2.5 million people worldwide have multiple sclerosis (MS). It affects the central nervous system — which means it slows the communication between the brain and other parts of the body. It’s chronic and unpredictable. It can have nasty side effects. But it’s manageable.
Julie S., a member of Prime Therapeutics Specialty Pharmacy™, has been living with MS since 2001. When it started, she felt numbness in her legs and stomach. Like many people, she ignored her symptoms at first. Then a few days later, her legs gave out while she was running.
“The formal diagnosis took awhile. Initially they thought I had a stroke — which was not the case,” Julie said. “From there I went to a neurologist, but my tests were inconclusive. So they had me come back in six months. I didn’t have symptoms during that time but six months later, the numbness and tingling came back — in my feet, too. The MRI showed that I had MS.”
“This is totally going to impact my life.”
Julie admittedly “lost it” (her words) at the diagnosis. “Until they say ‘you have MS,’ you don’t believe it,” she said. “I thought, I’m not going to walk. I’m not going to be able to do what I want to do. Then I thought, you are done feeling sorry for yourself — now do something about it.”
When Julie was diagnosed, there were only four medicines available — all injectables. (Today there are 13, including oral medicines.) In consultation with her doctor, Julie first chose a weekly intramuscular injection, because “I figured nobody would know. I could take it on a Sunday and my side effects would go away. By Monday, nobody would notice.”
For the first few years, Julie didn’t tell anyone about her diagnosis. “I told my family and a few close friends,” she said. “I didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for me, especially at work. I didn’t want it to impact how people perceived me or my performance.”
Prime Specialty Pharmacy — medicine when you need it
Julie also has a prescription to help manage leg spasms at night. She started using Prime Specialty Pharmacy at a previous job, and uses it now. “Prime Specialty Pharmacy works well,” she said. “When I call, I know my meds will be there when they’re supposed to. And that’s the most important thing to me.“
Prime programs support significantly higher adherence
Studies show that MS treatments work, as long as you start treatment and stick with it. But adherence can be difficult with any specialty disease:
- Side effects may be severe
- Medicines can be costly
- People respond differently to the disease and its treatment
Prime Specialty Pharmacy offers reliable medicine delivery along with personalized, disease-specific support. We understand specialty diseases and the effects they can have. Our care management programs help lower overall costs, encourage adherence to therapy and create a better member experience. On average, members using Prime Specialty Pharmacy have significantly higher adherence — 1.3 points higher than retail for members with multiple sclerosis.1
“MS doesn’t affect my work”
MS didn’t affect Julie’s work performance then — or now. She’s had a couple relapses, one that required a visit to the emergency room. “I developed optic neuritis and lost the vision in my right eye,” she said. (It came back.) “I switched medicines but had to switch again because I wasn’t tolerating it. I’ve been on Copaxone for 11 years now. And I’m still walking."
Julie has a standing desk at work to help with afternoon leg spasms. She also walks between meetings to lessen the spasms. “Sometimes, if I’m typing too much, it affects the numbness I have in my left hand and fingertips,” she said. “But MS hasn’t impacted my ability to do my job successfully.”
Julie doesn’t think about the future often. But when she does, it’s tomorrow rather than six or nine months out. And for her, it’s all about thinking positive. “Dwelling on [having the disease] doesn’t get you anywhere. It’s a good reminder to appreciate what you have. Every day I can wake up and walk, it’s a good day. And I celebrate all those days.
“It’s cool to see the advances in medicine and research,” she added. “Maybe the future of MS really is, mystery solved.”
For information on Prime Specialty Pharmacy, contact your representative.