Aligning payer and provider strategies with the latest evidence to optimize clinical outcomes for patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder

Dean M. Wingerchuk, Brian G. Weinshenker, Dana McCormick, Sasha Barron, Laura Simone, Larissa Jarzylo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) is a rare autoimmune disorder affecting the central nervous system that is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to minimize long-term disability. Recent advances in the understanding of the pathophysiology of NMOSD have led to multiple new therapies, but significant care and knowledge gaps persist. OBJECTIVES: To summarize current knowledge about the burden of disease and diagnosis and treatment of NMOSD in order to support managed care professionals and health care providers in making collaborative, evidence-based decisions to optimize outcomes among patients with NMOSD. In addition, this review also presents findings of a patient survey that provides insight into real-world experiences of those living with NMOSD. SUMMARY: Diagnosis of NMOSD is based on detection of immunoglobulin G antibodies to the water channel protein aquaporin-4 (AQP4-IgG) in the context of compatible clinical and magnetic resonance imaging features. Patients who are AQP4-IgG seronegative and/or who are positive for myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein antibodies may also satisfy criteria for NMOSD. The rarity of the condition combined with the significant overlap in clinical features with other autoimmune diseases affecting the central nervous system, most notably multiple sclerosis, can delay accurate diagnosis, which in turn can delay appropriate treatment, leading to the accumulation of long-term disability. Accumulating disability associated with NMOSD has a substantial negative impact on quality of life. The disease typically evolves as relapsing (ie, repeated) acute attacks. Treatment consists of management of acute attacks, prevention of subsequent attacks, and management of acute and chronic symptoms. The armamentarium of therapies to prevent attacks consists of several monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) approved to treat AQP4-IgG–seropositive disease and several off-label therapies used for patients with either seropositive or seronegative disease. There is limited evidence to guide treatment decision-making, including which therapies to use first line, when to switch, and when to use monotherapy vs combination therapy. In addition, therapies with the greatest demonstrated safety and efficacy in NMOSD are costly and may not be accessible to all patients. Moreover, the results of the patient survey revealed significant clinical and financial burdens to patients with NMOSD including frequent attacks, delays in therapy initiation, need for urgent care and repeat hospitalizations, new and worsening symptoms, accumulating disability, and difficulties affording care. As such, key stakeholders must weigh them against the substantial economic costs of untreated or suboptimal treatment of disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S2-S27
JournalJournal of Managed Care and Specialty Pharmacy
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Health Policy


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