Multiple Sclerosis is rising and accelerating in Australia, new data show.
• February 14, 2023
The number of Australians living with multiple sclerosis (MS) is increasing at a significant and accelerating rate.
The latest data showed that 33,335 Australians were living with MS in 2021, an increase of 30% (7,728) over the four years since the previous update in 2017 (25,607).
The increase of MS in Australia has more than doubled from the previous period, which identified an increase of 4,324 people over eight years from 2010 to 2017.
Consequently, the prevalence of MS in Australia has also risen considerably. In 2021, 131.12 Australians per 100,000 people lived with MS, up from 103.7 per 100,000 in 2017.
The latest MS figures were published in the interim report, Health Economic Impact of Multiple Sclerosis in Australia in 2021, commissioned by MS Australia and prepared by the Menzies Institute for Medical Research at the University of Tasmania.
Principal Research Fellow at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research and Clinical Neurologist at the Royal Hobart Hospital and one of the report authors, Professor Bruce Taylor, says that while the rise in prevalence is a concern, the results were not unexpected.
“Increasing MS numbers are not what any of us want to see, however, the data is consistent with what we have been witnessing both domestically and internationally.
“Many lifestyle and behavioural risk factors contribute to a person developing MS, including obesity and insufficient sunlight exposure.
“If we can narrow down more precisely what risk factors are driving this escalation through further research, we could significantly reduce the risk of MS in Australia and globally,” Professor Taylor said.
The Interim Report also examined the economic impact MS has on Australian society by looking at the per person costs and the total cost of illness.
In 2021, the annual per person cost of a person living with MS in Australia was $73,457, an increase of $5,075 from 2017.
The annual per person costs of MS in Australia are higher than other comparable complex chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s disease ($53,318), Type 2 diabetes ($5,209) and long-term cancer ($17,401).
Head of the Health Economics Research Unit at Menzies and lead author of the report, Professor Andrew Palmer, says the total costs for all people with MS in Australia have increased substantially, from $1.75 billion in 2017 to $2.5 billion in 2021.
“The rising costs of MS in Australia are significant, reflecting the increasing number of people with the disease, as well as CPI increases,” Professor Palmer said.
“Due to the current climate of inflationary pressures, it is expected that MS cost estimates will continue to escalate even further from 2022 onwards.”
Please refer to latest PubMed articles on Gut Microbiota, Probiotics and MS