Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system that is classified as an immune-mediated inflammatory disease. In managed care, patients with MS can be managed through care coordination that engages an interprofessional approach to a comprehensive spectrum of preventive, medical, rehabilitative, cognitive, and long-term health care services. In addition, the management paradigm for MS is currently in a stage of rapid evolution, with a number of new agents, including more oral drugs, expected to become available in the near future. Pharmacy and therapeutic committees may soon be faced with evaluating a hierarchy of new scientific data to differentiate the safety and efficacy of these new agents. Decisions will need to be made regarding the utility of these potential new agents among existing therapies with longer-term safety and efficacy data available in the scientific literature. For those MS patients managed under Medicaid, formulary and medication management decisions may be further impacted by psychosocial, cultural, educational, attitudinal, and/or economic factors that may be unique to the Medicaid population. The need to maximize immediate and long-term resource utilization is usually an important consideration when managing a Medicaid population. There is also an increasing focus on quality measures and quality outcomes by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Many managed care professionals can be involved in establishing quality measures and quality improvement processes to effectively appropriate and manage the resources required for Medicaid patients with MS. As a result, medication and medical management of this special population can involve a comprehensive approach by managed care professionals. For purposes of this article, the term "special populations" applies to patients with MS who are managed under Medicaid plans.
Objectives: To review (a) particular challenges managed care organizations (MCOs) encounter when managing special populations of Medicaid patients with MS, (b) recent efficacy and safety data for oral therapies for relapsing forms of MS, (c) costs of current MS therapies, and (d) potential strategies for managed care to improve care of their MS patient population and optimize clinical and economic outcomes.
Methods: Review of recent published literature, abstracts related to MS presented at major medical conferences, and recommendations from key organizations including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Summary: The health economics of MS are a central issue for MCOs managing Medicaid patient populations. Additional challenges include the anticipated expansion of the marketplace to include several new oral agents and the lack of consensus guidelines for management of patients with MS. The benefit-risk profile of new agents will need to be considered in the context of established first-line parenteral drugs. Management of patients with MS should include an individualized approach for each patient as part of a shared decision-making process. In the overall management of special patient populations, case management and collaborative practice models in managed care may help to ensure that critical benchmarks are achieved.