Treatments for multiple sclerosis are now among the WHO Essential Medicines

We are happy to announce a major accomplishment in our collaboration with the MS International Federation (MSIF): rituximab, glatiramer acetate and cladribine are the first-ever disease-modifying therapies for people with multiple sclerosis included in the WHO Essential Medicines List (EML).

This is an important formal recognition by WHO of MS as a global health concern, a support to make MS treatments available in low-resource settings, and a tool for awareness and advocacy.

It is also a crucial first step to ensure that people with MS will be able to access appropriate treatment options in Countries with limited resources. In its official announcement of the publication of the EML, WHO defined the inclusion of MS treatments as a "landmark public health decision".

View the video with thanks to our Cochrane Review Group by the WHO Assistant Director General

The application to add MS treatments to the WHO EML, co-developed by MSIF and the Bologna WHO Collaborating Centre in Evidence-Based Research Synthesis and Guideline Development, was the product of a successful synergic collaboration. By generating the evidence base on disease-modifying treatments for MS, our Review Group has partnered with  the Rome GRADE Centre and the McMaster GRADE Centre to support the development of the application itself and two independent, multi-disciplinary and international panels appointed by MSIF: the MSIF Off-Label Task Force (MOLT) and the MSIF Essential Medicines Panel (MEMP).

This work has led to several Cochrane Reviews that are published or in later stages of preparation:

·        Immunomodulators and immunosuppressants for progressive multiple sclerosis: a network meta‐analysis

·        Immunomodulators and immunosuppressants for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: a network meta-analysis (Forthcoming update)

·        Adverse effects of immunotherapies for multiple sclerosis: a network meta‐analysis

·        Rituximab for people with multiple sclerosis

·        Azathioprine for people with multiple sclerosis

Banner photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash