This is really cool... it sucks for me, because I do not live in Russia, but it is a step in the right direction...
Tuesday July 13, 2010
Russia is the first country to approve an oral drug for multiple sclerosis (MS), Merck KGaA's Cladribine. The drug is expected to be marketed there under the name Movectro, beginning in early 2011. There is no information as of yet how much the drug would cost.
I find this interesting. I worked in Russia for many years and have some very good friends there. When I was first diagnosed with MS, my Russian friend said to me, "Of course, it is terrible. However, you are lucky that you are not in Russia. A disease like multiple sclerosis is a death sentence in this country." When I pushed her for details, she said, "There is no treatment. People with any sort of disability are treated terribly. They hide their diseases until they cannot hide symptoms anymore, then they hide themselves away." I would like to think the situation has gotten better in the 7 years since she said this, but cultural change around accepting illness and disability usually takes much longer than this.
The Atlas of MS estimates that 250,000 people in Russia have MS, although I imagine only a tiny fraction of those people have been diagnosed, as MRI scanners are not as available as they are in other countries and many people do not have access to this kind of equipment.