How Much Does Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Cost?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder affecting the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Symptoms of MS including muscle weakness, pain, and cognitive issues typically start between ages 20 and 40 and are caused by the breakdown of what’s called the myelin sheath (the protective coating around nerve cells that helps to carry information from the brain to the body). Treatment for MS can help slow the progression of this breakdown, and therefore slow symptom progression, but there is no cure for MS.

This article covers the costs of treating MS including medical and nonmedical treatments, managing these costs, and what to expect.

Man in doctor's office

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The Average Cost of MS Treatment

The average cost of MS treatment has increased over the past two decades. A 2015 review of disease-modifying treatments (DMTs) for patients with MS found medications that originally cost a person around $8,000 to $11,000 now cost around $60,000 per year.

The average cost of MS treatment has increased, with newer DMTs entering the prescription drug market. For example, newer DMTs commonly entered the market with a cost of 25–60% higher than existing DMTs. These costs, and therefore the cost of MS treatment, are around two to three times higher in the United States than in comparable countries.

That estimate doesn't include the non-DMT costs of living with MS, such as the costs of managing a lifelong illness and transportation to healthcare providers. A 2022 study suggests the average cost of MS treatment in the U.S. is now around $88,487 per year.

Types of MS Treatments

There are two types of MS treatments and associated costs: direct treatment costs and indirect costs. These costs will vary depending on health insurance coverage and personal daily needs. 

Direct Treatment

Direct treatment refers to doctor’s appointments and medications. Medications like DMTs may be prescribed as injections, oral therapies, and IV infusions. Direct treatment carries the biggest cost burden. A person with MS pays an estimated $65,000 more in medical costs per year than someone without MS.

Indirect Treatment

Indirect treatment costs and nonmedical costs are all the other costs associated with managing a lifelong illness like MS.

Indirect treatment costs refer to things like:

Managing the Cost of MS Treatment

As a patient, managing the cost of MS on your own can be particularly difficult. Finding a cost-conscious healthcare provider may be helpful because there are several ways they can help you manage treatment costs. In a 2016 article on cost-containment strategies for MS treatment, researchers proposed five options.

You may want to consider sharing this list of cost-containment strategies with your healthcare provider and discussing your options.

  • Avoid prescribing DMTs unless the patient has an accurate diagnosis of MS and symptoms warrant the need for a prescription.
  • Treat a relapse according to symptom severity (i.e., do not give a generic approach to relapse treatment, which may go overboard and cost more than the patient truly needs).
  • Develop alternative dosing strategies for Food and Drug Administration-approved DMTs that have proved effective.
  • Consider off-label prescriptions for MS (in place of direct treatment DMTs).
  • Review the use of prescription DMTs as the patient ages (i.e., consider the patient may not require the same dosage of DMTs for the rest of their life).

What if You Can't Afford a Certain MS Treatment?

As a patient or caregiver, the best approach for managing the cost of MS treatment is to bring it up with your healthcare provider and share any concerns you may have about affordability. They may have alternative options to provide. You may also consider talking to your insurance provider about coverage options better suited to your personal needs.

What to Expect

The good news is that MS treatments are evolving and improving, showing greater tolerability and decreased adverse reactions. But the reality of the situation is that these newer DMTs are even more costly than before, and there is still no cure for MS.

You can expect MS to be an expensive illness that changes your life in more ways than one as you consider how to cover these costs and which costs are absolutely necessary. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the cost of MS treatment, you may want to consider sharing your concerns with your healthcare provider and insurance company and joining a support group for people with MS who are also experiencing this. 


Living with MS is expensive. There are costs associated with direct treatment, which include doctor’s appointments and prescription medications to slow the disease's progression. There are also the indirect costs and nonmedical costs of everyday living with MS, such as having to retire early and modify your home for accessibility purposes. Managing costs begins with a discussion with your healthcare provider and insurance company. Regardless, you can expect MS treatment to be expensive. 

A Word From Verywell 

If you have MS, bear in mind that the cost of treatment is not your fault, and an inability to cover all your medical costs on your own does not make you a burden. Though it is expensive, there are ways to manage costs. You aren't alone in dealing with MS. You can find support at your local chapter of the National MS Society.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is multiple sclerosis treatment expensive?

    Yes. Treatment for MS is expensive. The average cost of treatment per year is estimated at around $88,487. This includes both direct treatment costs like prescription medications and doctor’s appointments and nonmedical costs. People with MS pay around $65,000 more per year in medical costs than people without MS.

  • Is multiple sclerosis treatment necessary?

    Yes, multiple sclerosis treatment is necessary. Though there is no cure for MS yet, treatment works by slowing down the disease's progression. It does this by preventing the further breakdown of the protective nerve cell coating (the myelin sheath).

  • How much does MS cost yearly, on average?

    Estimates vary depending on factors such as health insurance coverage and each patient's exact needs. One estimate from 2022 shows the average yearly cost of MS treatment to be as high as $88,487. This cost includes direct treatment like doctor’s appointments and medications and also the nonmedical costs of everyday living with MS.

7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Michelle Pugle
Michelle Pugle, BA, MA, is an expert health writer with nearly a decade of contributing accurate and accessible health news and information to authority websites and print magazines. Her work focuses on lifestyle management, chronic illness, and mental health. Michelle is the author of Ana, Mia & Me: A Memoir From an Anorexic Teen Mind.