Access to Care for Multiple Sclerosis in Times of Economic Crisis in Greece – the HOPE II Study

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, University of Peloponnese, Corinth, Greece

2 Centre for Health Services Research, Medical School, University of Athens, Athens, Greece

3 Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Peloponnese, Corinth, Greece

4 National Organization for Healthcare Services Provision, Athens, Greece

5 Department of Statistics, Athens University of Economics and Business, Athens, Greece

Abstract

Background
While there is currently no cure for multiple sclerosis (MS), treatment with biologic diseasemodifying drugs (bDMDs) can reduce the impact of the condition on the lives of patients. In Greece, the regulatory change in the distribution system of bDMDs, limited their administration through the designated pharmacies of the National Organization for Healthcare Services Provision (EOPYY) or the National Health System (ESY) hospitals, thus potentially impacting access to MS treatment. In this context, the aim of this paper was to assess the barriers to bDMDs, by recording MS patients’ experiences.
 
Methods
A survey research was conducted between January and February 2014 in Athens and 5 other major Greek cities with the methods of personal and telephone interview. A structured questionnaire was used to elicit socio-economic and medical information, information related to obstacles in accessing bDMDs and medical treatment, from MS patients that visited EOPYY pharmacies during the study period.
 
Results
During the last year 69% of 179 participants reported that the distribution system of bDMDs has improved. Thirteen percent of participants encountered problems in accessing their medication, and 16.9% of participants in accessing their physician, with the obstacles being more pronounced for non-Athens residents. Frequent obstacles to bDMDs were the distance from EOPYY pharmacies and difficulties in obtaining a diagnosis from an EOPYY/ESY physician, while obstacles to medical care were delays in appointment booking and travel difficulties.
 
Conclusion
Even though the major weaknesses of the distribution system of bDMDs have improved, further amelioration of the system could be achieved through the home delivery of medicines to patients living in remote areas, and through the development of a national MS registry.

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Main Subjects


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