Multiple sclerosis patients are missing out on drugs

Multiple sclerosis patients are missing out on drugs

Multiple sclerosis patients are missing out on drugs

The BBC has published a report that shows too many multiple sclerosis (MS) patients are missing out on drugs. A survey of more than 10,000 adults with MS showed that many were missing out on the seven licensed medicines approved for use. Access to disease modifying treatments (DMT) varied across the four countries of the UK.

The MS Society, a charity,  said a lack of information and access to specialists was to blame. DMTs can only be prescribed to MS patients with RRMS. The drugs that are available are listed below

UK licensed medicines for MS -April 2013

  • Avonex, Betaferon, Rebif and Copaxone were all made available on the NHS in 2002 throughout the UK.
  • Extavia was licensed in 2009 and reduces relapses by a third.
  • Tysabri is a monthly infusion administered by a healthcare professional. It can reduce the number of relapses by an estimated 67% and slow disability. It was approved for use on the NHS across the UK in 2007.
  • Gilenya, the first pill for MS, is said to reduce relapse rates by 54-60% and slows disability progression by around 30%. It was approved in 2012.

Someone living in Northern Ireland with MS was twice as likely to be taking a DMT (68%) than someone with the condition in Wales (30%), for example. Access to treatment in Scotland and England was only a little higher at 36% and 40.

The MS Society survey made the following points

  • 6 out of 10 eligible people with MS are not taking a disease modifying drug for their condition
  • Just two in 100 people with MS use one of two licensed symptom management treatments
  • If you have MS and live in Northern Ireland you are twice as likely to be taking a DMT than if you live in Wales.
  • Half of those who are struggling financially and are in need of social care support are unable to access it. By contrast, nine out of 10 of people who are financially comfortable and need social care are able to access it
  • Access to MS nurses, neurologists, powered wheelchairs and support to make home adaptations is often based on where you live, not your clinical needs

If you have RRMS then you must talk to your consultant, MS Nurse or GP about treatment.

Nick Rijke, Director for Policy & Research at the MS Society, said: “When it comes to MS drug prescription rates, the UK ranks 25th out of 27 European countries. Given the relative wealth of the UK this is simply unacceptable.”

Multiple Sclerosis reaction

To coincide with the report, we’re launching the Stop the MS lottery campaign, calling for everyone with MS to have fair access to the treatments and services they need, when they need them, wherever they live in the UK.

We want every person with MS to have a personalised treatment, care and support plan, with two comprehensive reviews each year.

When it comes to MS drug prescription rates, the UK ranks 25th out of 27 European countries. For such an affluent and rich society that exist within the UK this is unacceptable.

Associated articles

BBC article

MS Society article

East Finchley woman speaks against MS postcode lottery

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