Author: Becky Gillette, Arkansas Medical News
When neurologist Robert L. “Lee” Archer, MD, finished his residency in 1986, there were no disease modifying treatments for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). When the first treatment came out in 1994, demand was so great that a quarter million people with the disease wanted to be on the treatment, Betaferon.
“There was a lottery to see who could start it first,” Archer said. “That is the first and only time there has been a lottery to decide who starts a medication first. Everyone got on treatment within six months. Since then, there has been an incredible flurry of new drugs approved including ones just a couple months ago. Now we have about 15 drugs to choose from. It has become a well-defined specialty taking care of MS patients because it has gotten complicated about who should be on which drug. There is a lot of debate about which medication is best for which group of patients.”
Archer, a professor of neurology at the Jackson T. Stephens Spine and Neurosciences Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), got interested in specializing in MS early in his career when he was contacted by the MS Society.
“They knew I had taken care of several people with MS, and got good feedback from those patients,” he said. “They asked me to consider making MS an area of expertise. I have done it ever since.”