MS LifeLines To Simplify Access To Multiple Sclerosis Therapy

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Multiple Sclerosis Therapy

EMD Serono launches a new program, MS LifeLines Access Made Simple, providing simplified and affordable access to therapy for people with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis.

The program is for patients who have either been newly prescribed Rebif by their physician or who have restarted Rebif therapy after having discontinued for more than 90 days.

This program is only available to patients in the U.S.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) recommends that initiation of therapy with an immunomodulator be considered as soon as possible following a definite diagnosis of MS with active disease to receive the full benefits from treatment. However, it can sometimes take 30 or more days, depending on each individual's insurance and income situation, to secure the necessary health insurance approvals orreimbursement assistance and actually begin therapy. The new MS LifeLines Access Made Simple program is designed to help people start therapy as soon as possible after diagnosis. All eligible participants will receive up to one year of therapy regardless of income level, with no more than a $50 co-payment required of any patient.

"When a patient is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and we decide on a course of treatment, we want to proceed as quickly as possible. However, treatment can often be delayed as patients navigate their insurance systems or get enrolled in patient assistance programs," said Dr. James P. Simsarian, past president of the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) and director of the MS program at the Neurology Center of Fairfax in Fairfax, Virginia. "The MS LifeLines Access Made Simple program speeds up patient access to Rebif therapy and simplifies the process for the patients so they can concentrate on their health."

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While many health insurance plans cover MS treatments, the process for securing approvals and reimbursement can be complicated. For people without health insurance, access to treatment can be difficult. In fact, according to The Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey (2005), 59% of adults, ages 19 to 64, without insurance, are less likely to manage chronic conditions than adults with insurance, due to skipping doses or not filling their prescription because of cost.

"From our experience, a newly diagnosed MS patient only comes to understand the terms of their insurance once they have received a diagnosis. This can significantly delay their time to treatment," said James Hoyes, Chief Commercial Officer for EMD Serono, Inc. "Our goal with this program is to allow patients with relapsing forms of MS who have been newly prescribed Rebif by their physicians the opportunity to begin taking therapy as soon as possible while they work through the necessary insurance and assistance issues. The program also provides them with educational services that are necessary to optimize therapy success."

There is no new enrollment process for the MS LifeLines Access Made Simple program; eligible patients can be enrolled when they follow the standard procedures already in place for voluntary enrollment in MS LifeLines support services.

The MS LifeLines Access Made Simple program is part of EMD Serono's ongoing commitment to patient support. Patients enrolled in the program have access to the support services offered by MS LifeLines, an educational support service committed to the MS community, which includes a call-center service, web site, patient ambassador program, customized communications based on a patient's specific needs, and access to a dedicated team of MS-certified nurses, as well as reimbursement information and general MS information specialists. This free resource is sponsored by EMD Serono, Inc. and Pfizer Inc and was developed with the guidance of people living with MS.

Under the MS LifeLines Access Made Simple program, at the conclusion of their participation in the program, patients who were not able to obtain full insurance coverage for Rebif therapy can apply to the MS LifeLines Patient Assistance Program (PAP), which provides financial support to people who cannot otherwise afford therapy.

Rebif (interferon beta-1a) is a disease-modifying drug used to treat relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) and is similar to the interferon beta protein produced by the human body. Interferon helps modulate the body's immune system, fight disease and reduce inflammation.

Rebif, which was approved in Europe in 1998 and in the US in 2002, is registered in more than 80 countries worldwide. In the United States, Rebif is co-marketed by EMD Serono, Inc. (the US affiliate of Merck Serono) and Pfizer Inc. Rebif has been proven to delay the progression of disability, reduce the frequency of relapses and reduce MRI lesion activity and area(1). Rebif is not approved for treatment of chronic progressive MS. Rebif is available in a 22 mcg and 44 mcg ready-to-use pre-filled syringe and a titration pack, and can be stored at room temperature for up to 30 days if a refrigerator is not available.

Most commonly reported side effects are injection site disorders, flu-like symptoms, elevation of liver enzymes and blood cell abnormalities. Patients, especially those with depression, seizure disorders, or liver problems, should discuss treatment with Rebif with their doctors.

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