DVH chosen to distribute specialized MS drug

Desert View Hospital was recently certified to begin administering the Multiple Sclerosis medication Tysabri in Pahrump.

Multiple Sclerosis is defined by the National MS Society as “a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves.”

Tysabri is reportedly used to decrease the re-occurrence of flare-ups of Multiple Sclerosis and is administered monthly to patients suffering from the disease. It is only available through a special restricted distribution program called the TOUCH Prescribing Program, of which Desert View is a participant.

Desert View Hospital Director of Pharmacy Nick DelGandio said the TOUCH program is focused on ensuring patient safety both before and during use of the medication.

“The program is geared toward patient safety; monitoring the patients, evaluating the patients before their dose. There are some risks with the medication, it will negatively impede the immune system, so they do become at risk for other infections, the JC virus being the primary virus that they look for. So there’s screening involved and once we’re comfortable the patient is not at further risk, we’re able to administer the medication and do all the monitoring here in the facility,” he said.

Before Tysabri is administered to a patient, Medical/Surgical Manager Melanie Lentz said there is a two-page check list they must go through to ensure they are in good health to receive the medication.

If anything seems off, she added the hospital staff will contact both the patient’s neurologist as well as TOUCH to notify them of the issue and see how the patient’s doctor would like to proceed.

DVH staff, including DelGandio and Lentz, attended several days of training in preparation of the hospital becoming certified to distribute the Tysabri treatment to local patients.

DelGandio said he and the rest of the hospital staff hope by providing the medication here in Pahrump they can save patients a lengthy trip into Las Vegas for care.

“Any help we can give to patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis is a benefit to the community. It’s a terribly debilitating disease and I think being in a rural area makes it that much worse, because to really get the care that they need they’re going to have to travel. An hour and 15 minutes away is an hour and 15 minutes away and if you’re not feeling good that makes that trip much worse. So our feeling is we need to expand the therapies that we’re able to offer to this community,” he said.

“It’s here, it’s available, we’re doing everything we can to care and provide for this community, and that’s what this is all about,” Lentz added.

Although the hospital as of Wednesday afternoon had not yet had any patients treated at the facility with the medication, DelGandio said he hopes once patients and their physicians find out the medication is available locally more people will be able to take advantage of the service.

The hospital encourages patients currently traveling to Las Vegas for Tysabri treatment to notify their physician that their treatment can now be obtained locally at the hospital if they wish to be treated here. For more information, contact Lentz at 775-751-7500.

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