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Aliza Ben-Zacharia Outlines the Critical Unmet Needs in MS Treatment Today

The progressive illness, emotional management, and cognitive remediations serve as the major unmet needs in MS treatment today, said Aliza Ben-Zacharia, DNP, ANP, associate director at the Center for Nursing Research and Innovation at Mount Sinai.


The progressive illness, emotional management, and cognitive remediations serve as the major unmet needs in MS treatment today, said Aliza Ben-Zacharia, DNP, ANP, associate director at the Center for Nursing Research and Innovation at Mount Sinai.

Transcript

What are some of the biggest unmet needs in MS treatment today?

So, there are few, actually, unmet needs–1 of the I think most important ones that we have is very limited treatments for progressive disease. We had 1 treatment approved 2 years ago for primary progressive MS and recently we had 1 that was approved for SPMS, but still we do not have the same treatment that we have for relapsing disease as for progressive illness. That’s a huge unmet need because patients continue to progress over time and have more and more disability–affect their quality of life, affect their functional level, and it’s so important to really have more clinical trials about progressive disease.

Another unmet need is that I see in my clinical practice there was–the prevalence of depression and anxiety is so high and there are not enough specialists in the community, psychiatrists that number 1 have MS experience that know how to treat patients with MS and number 2, most of them do not accept any medical insurance, which makes it so challenging for our patients who are really sick to get ongoing treatment because I do believe in–I think most of my colleagues think that mental condition is much more important than the physical condition of our patients. So, it’s so important, critical, and timely to treat depression, treat the mental condition of patients–I think that’s important.

Lastly, another unmet need is we don’t have enough remediation programs for cognitive deficits, and I think most of what we have–they’re pretty limited anyhow because there are no treatments, no medication that you can give patients to treat their cognitive deficits. Although different than Alzheimer disease–also in Alzheimer disease you don’t have medication that can change cognitive function–that can make them better with processing information–better memory. Hopefully, I will see in my lifetime some new medication for cognitive dysfunction in MS because it’s sometimes devastating to see patients with cognitive deficits that have difficulty at work, lose their jobs because of cognitive deficits. So, I think those are the areas that I think that [are] mainly unmet in our populations–really the progressive illness, emotional management, and cognitive remediations.

 
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