When it comes to the management of my MS, I tend to agree with my neurologists.... everything seems to be going along okay at the moment, so why change anything? When treatment options seem to be rapidly expanding, this is maybe occasionally a bit frustrating: why am I still sticking myself in the thigh every week with a huge needle when there are oral treatments available?
Well, the reason why is actually very simple: Avonex was my first-choice treatment option in 2009, and although we'll never know if it's the drug that's been making the difference, my MS has barely progressed since that point. When you add in the fact that my body tolerates the side-effects very well, you would need to have a pretty good reason to rock the boat.
If it ain't broke....
Then I got a call from my MS nurse this morning. Apparently they're going to stop manufacturing the particular variety of Avonex that I use. I use the bioset version: this comes in a vial in powdered form that you rehydrate with the purified water in the syringe before injecting. I chose this for the very simple reason that you don't need to keep it in the fridge and I was about to go travelling in the southern hemisphere for the next few months. The convenience of not having to keep this stuff cool was a massive bonus.
There are two replacement options: one is a pre-filled syringe and the other is some sort of injector pen thing. The change probably isn't that big a deal because it's ultimately exactly the same drug in exactly the same dose. But it's a change. Both the other options need to be stored in a fridge, for starters.
So, how long do I have to decide? Well, apparently they're discontinuing the one I have in April... so not long. In fact, the nurse made an appointment for me on Friday this week to discuss the options and to make my decision.
I wouldn't say that I was the kind of person who was particularly unsettled by change, but somehow this news has ruffled my feathers a little bit. I wouldn't say I like injecting myself all that much or was even particularly attached to the way that I do it today.... but this somehow feels like a change that I'd instinctively rather not make.
Well, the pen injector apparently has a significantly smaller needle... so maybe there are some upsides, after all.