Understanding Multiple Sclerosis. And Fighting for Better Medicinal Access.

How can the unaffected public grasp the impact diseases like MS have on everyday life? 

Blurred vision. Spatial disorientation. Extreme fatigue. These are just a few of the regular symptoms for millions of people who with live with multiple sclerosis (MS) — the most common neurological disease among young adults in Irelandaffecting the motor, sensory and cognitive functions of the body.  

To make matters even worse, Ireland offers the worst access to new and innovative medicines of any other country in Western Europe, leaving people with MS in Ireland waiting for medicines that could help. Roche Products saw the challenges facing those living with MS and called on us to help make a meaningful change.  

Misunderstood, meet “MSUnderstood.” 

The symptoms of MS can be invisible to others — but not inside the MSUnderstood Café — an experiential, pop-up café for unsuspecting patrons. From blurring signage to moving or weighted furniture, MSUnderstood Café simulated real-life MS symptoms, as a staff of actors made sure each customer got the full experience. And hidden cameras captured their reactions.  

Customers were then urged to visit www.patientsdeservebetter.ieto contact their representatives and demand better medicinal access. We aligned the launch alongside new research showing public support of medicinal access, while partnering with the MS Ireland patient group to make sure both the message and Café experience rang true.   

Millions of impressions create real political momentum. 

The 2,000+ people who visited the MSUnderstood Café were only the start of a nationwide conversation — as the campaign reached over 13 million impressions. But that conversation went far beyond headlines and into actual political discourse. 

Parliament heard 12 questions on improving access to MS treatment in just one month, and two Ministers formally wrote the Minister for Health to request changes in the healthcare market access system. The Minister for Health even met with MS Ireland to discuss the most effective ways to improve access to medicine for multiple sclerosis.  

MSUnderstood CaféStats and results: 

  • 13+ million impressions across traditional and social media 
  • 12 parliamentary questions on improving medicinal access in just 1 month 
  • 2 formal written requests for policy changes from Ministers 
  • Commitments from all politicians who visited the Café across party lines 
  • Plus, a meeting secured between the Minister of Health and MS Ireland