Business & Pleasure August 24, 2022 | 12:35 pm

Physicians meet to discuss innovative approaches for multiple sclerosis patients

Multiple Sclerosis causes spasms in the muscles.- External source

This week 70 physicians from Central America and the Caribbean will participate in a hybrid meeting with 12 international experts to analyze clinical evidence in the approach to multiple sclerosis.

The activity was organized by Novartis and supported by the Latin American Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (LACTRIMS), the Central American and the Caribbean Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (CACTRIMS), and the Central American and Caribbean Forum on Multiple Sclerosis (FOCEM), will take place on August 26 and 27 and will be held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. This will be a space for the medical community to discuss advances in therapies to treat multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease affecting more than 2.8 million people worldwide.

Under the slogan “Stop multiple sclerosis! Every minute is freedom”, invited specialists from the United States, Canada, Germany, Spain, and Argentina – whose care centers together treat nearly 36,000 patients with multiple sclerosis – will review topics related to early diagnosis, highly effective therapies, signs of progression, efficacy, and safety, and pharmacoeconomics, among others.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic neurological disease of an inflammatory and autoimmune nature that affects the central nervous system, i.e., the brain and spinal cord. The immune system reacts erroneously against myelin (a fatty substance that covers and allows a nerve to transmit its impulses rapidly) in multiple areas, sometimes leaving scars (sclerosis). The loss of myelin is accompanied by a disruption in the ability of nerves to conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain.

Symptoms and signs of the disease will vary from person to person, depending on the areas affected. However, some of the most common symptoms of MS are blurred vision, weakness, tingling sensations, instability, and fatigue. For some people, the disease is characterized by periods of relapse and remission, while others have a progressive pattern.

“An early diagnosis and the timely initiation of appropriate therapy, which can reduce the effects of the disease, represents a great opportunity to alleviate the impact on patients’ quality of life. For this reason, it is of utmost importance to achieve access to highly effective innovative therapies that mitigate the progression of the disease and positively impact the quality of life of patients and their families,” said Jeanine Obage, Novartis’ medical manager for Central America, the Caribbean, Ecuador, and Peru.

The Dominican Republic has been at the forefront in approving new therapies for treating this disease. In 2021, the General Directorate of Medicines, Food and Health Products of the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance approved registrations for ofatumumab and siponimod.

Ofatumumab is a drug used to treat adult patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis that includes clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting, and secondary progressive active form. On the other hand, siponimod will treat adults with an advanced form of multiple sclerosis, known as secondary active-phase multiple sclerosis.

“During clinical studies, both drugs showed high efficacy and safety, so we are convinced that we contribute to alternative therapeutic possibilities that can positively impact the quality of life of patients and their families. We know that at this point ‘time equals protecting the brain’, so discussion spaces like this one with physicians in the region, is vital to support the process of patient care,” concluded Obage.

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