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MS drug scheme faces criticism


A scheme set up by the Department of Health (DH) to investigate the possibility of making four new drugs available to sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) has been criticised by a charity.

The MS Society said that it is concerned that the scheme will fail and sufferers of MS will not be able to get the drugs they thought would be made available.

The DH scheme was set up in 2002 in response to a ruling by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) stating that some MS drugs were not cost effective.

The study aimed to observe the effects of four drugs over ten years to see if they performed as they were meant to. If they did not, their manufacturers would share the risk by subsidising them on the NHS.

However, an analysis of the first two years of the scheme has revealed that methodological difficulties have caused problems.

In addition, the MS Society has raised concerns that prescriptions for MS drugs are still low and can be subject to a postcode lottery.

Simon Gillespie, chief executive of MS Society said: “This is a deeply frustrating situation. The four drugs involved are not the issue and many have benefited from taking them – it is the way the scheme has been run that is the problem.

“People with MS and taxpayers deserve much better. Government’s approach towards the treatment of 100,000 people with MS across the UK doesn’t give them, or their families, confidence for the future.”

Copyright Press Association 2009

British Medical Journal

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