As part of a study we commissioned, researchers have interviewed neurologists and MS nurses from across the UK to find out more about their views and experiences of prescribing DMTs.
What did the study find?
We know that just 56% of people who could benefit from a disease modifying therapy (DMTs) are doing so. We also know that access to treatment varies from region to region within the UK. This study found that prescribing practices are influenced by a number of different factors, including familiarity and previous experience with DMTs and peer networks.
Neurologists felt that guidelines on DMT eligibility (which are based on the frequency and severity of relapses) were open to interpretation, leading to different personal “thresholds” for what counted as a relapse and whether someone was eligible for DMTs.
Familiarity and previous experience with different DMTs also influenced prescribing practices. Neurologists who had prescribed a drug before felt more comfortable prescribing it again. But they felt less comfortable when prescribing newer drugs. And previous patient outcomes also influenced neurologists’ decision to prescribe certain DMTs again.
Peer networks and different organisational prescribing cultures also played a role. Some neurologists described a team approach to prescribing, with a standard practice at a local level. But others said that their approach to prescribing was driven by influential colleagues with a dominant view.
What does this mean for people with MS?
Georgina Carr, our Head of Campaigns and External Relations, said: “More than 100,000 people in the UK have MS and everyone should be able to access the right treatment for them. That’s why it’s so important we address the variation in prescribing shown by this research.
“In 2019 we’ll be campaigning for policy and service changes that address the most commonly reported barriers to DMTs, and hosting a number of forums so MS professionals can come together and learn from each other. This will better equip them to help people with MS make treatment decisions, and hopefully improve access to DMTs across the whole of the UK.”