Overcoming MS endorses policy initiative, Brain health: time matters in multiple sclerosis

December 4, 2018

MS brain health and OMS logosAn international group of neurologists led by Professor Gavin Giovannoni has published an important report outlining a consensus approach to improving diagnosis, management and access to treatment for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). Over 50 other global organisations have endorsed the report recommendations including the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation, the Multiple Sclerosis Trust in the UK, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of America and the Multiple Sclerosis Societies of UK, Australia and New Zealand.

The Report recommendations are now endorsed by Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis (OMS), are referenced on the charity’s website and are being shared with its active global support community. The OMS vision strongly aligns with the Report’s numerous observations and recommendations which advocate early intervention and provide evidence for the benefit of an early therapeutic strategy to preserve brain and spinal cord, and thereby function for people with MS.

An independent and global group of leading health professionals has developed the policy initiative calling for a change in approach to the management of multiple sclerosis, advocating a treatment approach that aims to minimise disease activity and maximise lifelong ‘brain health’.

The Report summarises the evidence and consensus findings from the structured discussions of a global author group, comprising clinicians, researchers, specialist nurses, health economists and representatives from patient groups, all with expertise and experience in the area of MS.

In summarising the available data, this report:

  • demonstrates the personal and economic impact of MS (Section 1)
  • examines the reasons behind delays in diagnosis (Section 2)
  • presents the evidence base for a therapeutic strategy that aims to maximize lifelong brain health, centred around a more urgent approach to management (Section 3)
  • advocates regular monitoring of disease activity and safety parameters (Section 4)
  • recommends switching therapy based on evidence of disease activity (Section 5)
  • provides guidance on how to improve access to treatment (Section 6)

The report aims to drive the adoption of a therapeutic strategy based on early intervention and persuade relevant target audiences that this approach will reduce the considerable personal, societal and economic challenges of MS. The vision is that the report recommendations will be used widely among those committed to creating a better future for people with MS and their families.

OMS educates, supports and empowers people with MS in evidence-based lifestyle and medication choices that improve health outcomes. OMS promotes a ‘7-Step Recovery Programme’, an evidence-based and rigorously researched approach to preventing disease progression.

Gary McMahon, CEO of OMS, commented, “The Report offers some important recommendations which we wholeheartedly endorse and are happy to share amongst our community. It’s so important that we, and all relevant stakeholders, work together to raise awareness of the importance of early diagnosis, treatment and equally important lifestyle changes, to offer hope of a brighter future for people with MS.

“We can influence outcomes as we all strive towards a common goal – the highest possible standards of care. OMS believes that there is further opportunity to encourage the early adoption of lifestyle modification of risk factors alongside a more assertive medication strategy.”

The 84 page Report has been designed to be easily readable and understandable by a range of audiences. Recommendations have been presented widely at international scientific events. Target audiences include healthcare professionals managing or encountering people with MS, people with MS, advocacy groups and policy makers.

About Brain Health


8 thoughts on ‘Overcoming MS endorses policy initiative, Brain health: time matters in multiple sclerosis

  1. Hi,
    I was offered DMDs when diagnosed four years ago, but decided to go with a lifestyle-based approach rather than deal with the side-effects of the meds. I have felt reassured by the OMS approach’s attitude to this until seeing this today – does this mean that Prof Jelinek and other clinicians at OMS feel that I should have started on DMDs then? This report seems very clear in its advocacy of DMDs when deemed appropriate by your neurologist, and all of them round here think everyone should be on them asap. This strikes me as a huge shift in OMS’ approach, and one which I find unsettling, so I would be grateful for more information on this.

    • Dear Jenny,

      Thank you for your enquiry. I would like to assure you that OMS is not deviating from its program and remains fully committed to promoting an evidence-based lifestyle approach.

      From the onset of our endorsement of the Brain Health report, we fully intend to lobby for the early institution of appropriate lifestyle management as a priority for people diagnosed with MS. We accept OMS has its differences with Brain Health but there are also aspects in the report which align with our thinking in particular some of the following:
      – examines the reasons behind delays in diagnosis (Section 2)
      -presents the evidence base for a therapeutic strategy that aims to maximize lifelong brain health (Section 3)
      -advocates regular monitoring of disease activity and safety parameters (Section 4)
      -recommends switching therapy based on evidence of disease activity (Section 5)

      We strongly recommend a lifestyle-based approach, especially where it seems to be working as in your case. We did not intend to unsettle any individual within our valued community and with this endorsement we also wanted to work with other major organisations to help promote the best possible care outcomes for all those people with MS. Overall our view remains the same: act early, adopt lifestyle changes quickly, make sensible, informed decisions about DMD’s in consultation with your medical team and “Do whatever it takes”.

      If you have any more questions or concerns please email [email protected] and we will happily discuss further

  2. I think this is excellent – my two MS heroes George Jelinek and Gavin Giovannoni joining forces. A powerful message that whatever treatment approach you decide on, the key is to do it fast and wholeheartedly for the maximum benefit.

  3. I feel the same as Jenny! I haven’t followed my neurologist’s advise to start medication asap. So far, I’m happy and doing well without medication, 100% on OMS.

    If you follow the advise of your neurologist I believe 99,9% of PwMS would be on medication.

  4. I was diagnosed 3.5 years ago and my husband found the OMS website and protocol while we were waiting for a referral to a neurologist. I started the OMS diet/ lifestyle and it provided me with something I could do to help myself get “better”. This was very empowering considering that I would not see my first neurologist for 3 months( we didn’t “click” ) and was lucky enough to see my current neurologist 6 months after diagnosis. During that time my physical impairments improved greatly. My husband and I both have science backgrounds and looked at DMD studies very carefully. I decided not to use DMDs and had the support and understanding of both my family physician and my neurologist. ( who still continues to see me annually) My life is different than before but I live by the philosophy that every good day is a good day and listen to your body. I realize that I am fortunate to have this type of support, but believe that lifestyle changes are starting to become more accepted by medical professionals for many conditions. With time and education for physicians my hope is that others may have the support that I do. I also feel that it is important to respect whatever decision people make in how to manage their situation. I will never say that I will not take DMDs, but for now my faith relies in my daily lifestyle choices and not in big pharma.

  5. This report is a rather hopeless and depressing read.
    Wish there was research monies being spent on determining a cause of MS as there is a lot hype implicating Borrelia burgdorferi.

  6. This report is so exciting to read.Since I need to wake up more (and that is possible thank goodness) I will read again later to fully digest.
    What strikes me initially is the importance of a truly holistic approach to the M.S.er., and the way that is embraced by the O.M.S. programme.
    This is requiring continual shifting of parameters in our Western Dreamland (heavy!) so huge Thankyous to everyone shifting (even small shifts).

  7. I also got concerned on 1st reading that there’s much more I need to be doing for my brain health (what?). I’ve never been a good sleeper (a family inheritance) but it never concerned me before, I still had lots of energy and zest for life but over recent years I worry too much that insufficient sleep on top of ms increases risks with brain degeneration and then I lose time trying to make up for lost sleep which eats into my days and in turn reduces my life productivity and satisfaction and actually depresses me a bit. Which to tradeoff? Extra unhelpful stress

    Having read all of the above it seems preferable that OMS only partially endorsed it “with specific reservations”. Having already endorsed it, what bargaining chip does OMS have left to convince them to recommend the OMS program that they would already have been aware of when leaving it out? Good luck with smart acts of persuading them.

    My neurologist immediately put me on one of the new (dangerous) drugs at diagnosis and then wanted me in a trial for a new highly toxic drug that Dr Jelenik strongly warned against. I stopped all drugs. No relapse and healthy since (7 years) despite the neurologist telling me I’d come back in with some irreversible disability. He seemed ok with a risk of much worse side effects from the drugs though, (and he was a nice, modern neurologist)

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