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Betaseron update – drug for treatment of multiple sclerosis
Thanks in part of pressure by people with MS, the FDA approved Betaseron on July 23, 1993. Access and price are now the major concerns of the MS community. Berlex Laboratories, the company responsible for marketing the drug, developed the access and pricing plans.
People with MS who are interested in Betaseron should consult their physician. If it promises benefit, the physician should register the person with Berlex Laboratories now. Everyone who is registered will receive Betaseron eventually. There is no “lottery” for no one will be left out. But there is a shortage of Betaseron now.
Berlex notified neurologists on August 23 that random selection would be used to assign positions to patients registered before September 15, 1993. This method was chosen to make initial access as fair as possible. Since that date, new names are being registered in the order in which they are received — a traditional first-come, first-served basis.
Berlex will provide prescribing physicians with an estimate of when the drug will be available for their registered patients. The company estimates that the shortage in the U.S. will be over in two years.
At present, Medicare does not cover Betaseron. We hope the MS community will use the same power that helped to speed FDA approval to persuade Congress to amend the Medicare law. The NMSS “Action Alert” program can supply sample letters and assistance. Contact your NMSS chapter.
Berlex has a toll-free number to provide information about registration, insurance reimbursement, and their access program. Berlex is developing some approaches to relieve financial need, and we hope their plans will be effective. They have also published a guide explaining insurance reimbursement for Betaseron.