20 years ago if a patient had MS and they were looking for some type of a cure there wasn't the type of hope that there is today. These areas are evolving so rapidly that the medical community is having a hard time keeping up. Although I've said that MS is one of the success stories, one of the problems that we have is that there's so many advances that are coming so rapidly that many healthcare providers that are involved with MS patients have a hard time processing all of the information. There is a huge number of patients and over 10,000 patient's papers a year written on multiple sclerosis. So, one of our challenges at the Rocky Mountains MS Center is to help disseminate this information in a usable way, and one of the issues that is really trying to change their thinking about what the goal of treatment of MS is.
In the past it's been years of therapy to simply slow the rate of progression of disability and the number of attacks. We have now in our center adopted a strategy that our goal with the patient is actually to stop the disease and put him into what we call a disease-free state. That means they're not having attacks, they're not accumulating new disabilities and their MRI's are not changing. That's not possible in everybody, but it's possible probably in at least two-thirds of patients and this is the
first time in history that's been the issue.
So the implication of that though is how do we get that information out so that all of the patients and physicians in the area can use best practices to really minimize the risk of disability for patients in the future. And that remains a real challenge for us. We have strong educational programs for patients and it's a little bit harder for us to communicate with all of the healthcare systems and help them understand the new therapies. Particularly from the standpoint that within the next 12 months we are likely to have three new therapies that have very novel mechanisms of action and require a really major education program and part of healthcare professionals to understand how best to use them.
Getting insurance companies to pay for treatment is a problem. These drugs are extremely expensive. They often run between 40 and $50,000 per patient per year. They are the third most expensive category of disease in the United States today. That's partly because of the way the US economy works since we're a free-market system and companies can pretty much charge whatever they want. But the reality is, that in our program by using our research program to help supplement the access to these therapies for patients that don't have insurance or have inadequate insurance to get them. We can actually get most patients on one of the highly effective therapies if they want to go