Several weeks ago, Team Rubicon (TR), in collaboration with Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF), announced the COVID-19 Emergency Food Assistance Program funded by the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, and we are amazed by its early success! The program already has provided critical assistance to roughly 2,500 immunocompromised patients across the country during the COVID-19 Pandemic. As the pandemic continues to affect our nation, we again invite you to share this critical resource with patients living with cancer, multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis whose ability to access or afford food and other nutritional needs is at risk. The program flyer is available with this link for use in sharing the program.

Below are some helpful details about the application process as well as some enrollment support tips.

Application Process Summary

There are two ways the program may be able to assist eligible patients:
1. Team Rubicon is mobilizing volunteers to provide food pick-up and delivery assistance.
2. Patient Advocate Foundation is providing a one-time $500 financial assistance grant for those in need to purchase food.

Patients or their designated representative can begin the process of requesting either form of assistance or both by visiting here on the Team Rubicon website. Patients who need food delivery assistance will complete the intake form on Team Rubicon’s site, providing the required details needed to facilitate the volunteer food delivery service. Patients who wish to apply for the $500 in financial assistance, regardless of whether they requested food delivery assistance, will be redirected to PAF’s online portal to complete the financial assistance application. This application is separate from Team Rubicon’s form and must be completed to be eligible for financial assistance.

Enrollment Support Tips

Based on early analysis, it appears that some patients who completed the intake form hosted by Team Rubicon, and identified a need for financial assistance, may not have also initiated the required application for financial assistance with PAF and instead only completed the Team Rubicon form. Enhancements were made to the Team Rubicon intake form last Friday to enhance the effectiveness of the transfer of patients who need financial assistance to the PAF application portal.

Even though it is unlikely, if a patient contacts your organization reporting that they are still awaiting financial assistance from the program, but never received confirmation of their eligibility from Patient Advocate Foundation, then one probable cause is that they did not get transferred from Team Rubicon’s site to PAF’s application portal for a number of possible reasons. If you have a patient reach out to you in this situation, then please send an email to to inquire about the status of their financial assistance application. PAF will confirm if an application has been submitted. If not, PAF will provide information to facilitate the completion of their application.

Thank you for all you do to help patients and their caregivers!

Patient Advocate Foundation and Team Rubicon

E-Newsletter Released on April 3, 2020

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a new webpage of information to help address questions patients and caregivers may have about FDA-regulated medical products (drugs, biologics, and devices) during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The webpage is a source of information for patients during this time of crisis. Visitors to the page can find information on:
    • FDA COVID-19 resources, such as questions and answers on hand sanitizers;
    • How patients can report a drug, biologic, or medical device product shortage; and
    • Information on clinical trials and the FDA’s Expanded Access program.

Please visit the webpage at .

For additional questions you may have, please contact the FDA’s Patient Affairs Staff at 301-796-8460 or email

Other Patient Resources:

For Patients:

Questions and Answers for Patients About Clinical Trials During COVID-19 Outbreak:

Patient Affairs Staff (PAS)
Office of the Commissioner
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Tel: 301-796-8460

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are following the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), which causes a respiratory disease. This is a rapidly evolving situation and questions regarding the use of MS disease modifying therapies during this outbreak are being raised.

The National MS Society’s National Medical Advisory Committee (NMAC) recommends the following:

  1. People with MS should follow CDC guidelines and these additional recommendations for people at risk for serious illnesses from COVID-19.

  2. People with MS should continue disease modifying therapies (DMTs) and discuss specific risks with their MS healthcare provider prior to stopping a DMT.

  3. Before starting a cell depleting DMT* or a DMT that carries warnings of potentially severe increase in disability after stopping**, people with MS and their MS healthcare providers should consider specific risks (e.g. age, comorbid health conditions, location) and benefits.

These recommendations are the expert opinion of the National Medical Advisory Committee and are based on their clinical experience and assessment of the limited data available regarding COVID-19 and MS DMTs. They have been endorsed by the Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) and members of the MS Coalition***.

We are continuing to monitor this quickly evolving situation and these recommendations may be modified as more data becomes available.

* Cell depleting therapies include: Lemtrada, Mavenclad, Ocrevus and Rituxan (used off-label in MS)

** DMTs with a warning of potentially severe increase in disability after stopping include: Gilenya and Tysabri

*** Members of the MS Coalition include: Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis, Can Do MS, Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, International Organization of Multiple Sclerosis Nurses, MS Views and News, Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and United Spinal Association

As part of our commitment to ensuring healthy lives and promote well-being, we are providing you a list of resources related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

• A live-tracker of the spread of the disease from Johns Hopkins University.
• The latest updates from the WHO on the virus.
• WHO’s recommendations for the public to reduce exposure.
• The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendations for traveling.
WHO's rolling updates on coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

We are currently preparing systems and processes to be put in place to manage this issue during the meeting. More detailed information will be posted on our website as soon as we have them confirmed.

We will continue to monitor the situation and will update you on any changes regarding the 2020 CMSC Annual Meeting.


COVID-19: What You Need to Know

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 illness is a new coronavirus (a type of virus that causes respiratory infections) that was first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Since then, there has been worldwide spread of COVID -19 to nearly every continent. Initially spread appeared to be from those who had traveled from Wuhan, China to other parts of the world. However, at this time it is known that COVID-19 is affecting individuals who have not traveled or have had any contact with travelers. This is considered “community spread.”

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Most people who contract COVID-19 will have mild symptoms. Symptoms can include fever, cough, increased fatigue and difficulty breathing (shortness of breath).

How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 can be spread from person to person; particularly if there is close contact (within 6 feet) with someone who is infected. This spread occurs from respiratory droplets produced when the infected person coughs or sneezes directly on another person. COVID-19 can also spread when droplets (from coughs, sneezes or contaminated hands, land on surfaces and another person touches the contaminated surface with their hands and then touches their nose, mouth or possibly eyes with their hands. Spread is more likely when groups of people congregate together. We are following the recommendations from President Trump to avoid gatherings of greater than 10 people.

Are people with MS considered a “higher – risk” group?

The CDC identifies certain conditions as placing people at “higher risk” for infection or complications from COVID-19. This includes people with neurological conditions, such as MS. MS itself does not increase the risk of getting COVID-19, however, certain factors associated with your MS may increase your risk of infection or complications:
    • Taking certain disease modifying therapies
    • Chronic medical conditions, such as lung disease or heart disease
    • Significantly restricted mobility, such as needing to spend most of your day seated or in bed
    • Age 60 or older

Sometimes, the body’s response to infections, including COVID-19, may cause a temporary worsening of MS symptoms. For example, you may have more trouble with fatigue, thinking, mobility, vision or other symptoms. Typically, these symptoms settle down once the infection clears up.

How can I protect myself and others?

There are actions you can take to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.
These include:
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a flexed elbow or tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
    • Practice 'social distancing'. Based upon recommendations from President Trump, social distancing means avoiding gatherings (greater than 10 people) and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible.
    • Stay home and contact your primary care provider if you develop symptoms of COVID-19, have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19.

Is it ok for my family members or other close contacts to go to work or other types of social gatherings?

Care partners and family members who live with, or regularly visit, a person with MS should also follow the same recommendations to reduce the chance of bringing COVID-19 infection into the home.

What should I do about my MS disease modifying therapies (DMT) because of COVID-19?

There are recommendations about DMTs and COVID-19 coming from multiple individuals, groups and organizations. While each has attempted to provide clarity and sound guidance, differences in the recommendations have created a significant amount of confusion. Decisions regarding disease modifying therapies (DMTs) are made based upon multiple factors, including:
    • Your MS disease course
    • Other medical conditions you may have
    • Allergies to DMTs
    • Other medications that are not compatible with certain DMTs
    • Risks (including infections) vs. benefit of DMT
    • Your values and risk tolerance

The National MS Society, based upon advice from our National Medical Advisory Committee, has developed guidance on the use of DMTs during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, we endorse the global advice provided by the MS International Federation (MSIF) – but emphasize that DMT decision making must be individualized and based upon multiple factors, including those listed above.

Both the National MS Society DMT guidance and the MSIF global advice are endorsed by the Consortium of MS Centers and the MS Coalition.

Additional Resources:
CDC Warns Community Spread of Coronavirus is Likely

Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, urged Americans, businesses and hospitals to prepare for potential community spread of the emerging coronavirus, noting "disruption to everyday life might be severe." CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat and HHS Secretary Alex Azar said the immediate risk in the US remains low, but rising cases in other countries suggest the US will see an increase beyond the current 57 documented cases.

Full Story: REUTERS (02/25), CNN (02/26)

[Post courtesy of ANA SmartBrief (02/26)]
The MS International Federation (also known as MSIF) has compiled information and a video (see link below) which sufficiently addresses:

1) what the coronavirus is and how to protect against it; and
2) guidance for people living with MS who are taking a disease modifying therapy (DMT) and exposed to or confirmed to have the coronavirus infection

We encourage you to access this information and provide it to individuals affected by MS who may contact the National MS Society (NMSS) with questions about coronavirus and MS.

Any inquiries not addressed by the information/video within the MSIF link can be sent to