More MS news articles for Aug 2001

NICE Apprasial of Disease-Modifying Drugs in MS

An Update - August 07 2001

Current state of play

In what may well feel to you like a re-run of events just over a year ago, NICE has issued a statement about press speculation that it intends to limit access to disease-modifying drugs.  NICE has confirmed its provisional view is that beta interferons and glatiramer acetate should only be prescribed on the NHS to those already receiving the drugs.  The full text of the Provisional Appraisal Determination is on NICEís website

What the MS Society thinks about this situation

We believe that NICE uses an approach that is too crude to properly assess the cost-effectiveness of drugs for a condition as long-term and complex as MS.  NICE is not expected to make a final decision until October and we will continue to press our views forcefully within the NICE process.

In the meantime we will continue to speak out strongly on behalf of those people who could benefit from the drugs - and you can help in this.

What you can do now to help

It is sometimes easy to overlook the scale of what individuals have achieved in giving disease-modifying drugs for MS such a high profile.  It is the dogged persistence of everyone who has taken part in national lobbies and local action, signed petitions, written to their elected representative or obtained coverage in their local papers which has given this issue such prominence that even the Prime Minister has referred to it as Ďa very, very important decision with huge consequences not just for MS sufferers but for the whole of the National Health Serviceí [1]

We need to maintain this profile. Here are some points you might like to use in a further letter to your elected representative, or indeed direct to the Prime Minister himself.

These drugs are proven to work and are used widely in other countries.

The drugs are prescribed to about 13-15% of people with MS in other European countries.

The UK prescribes these drugs to just 2-3% of people with MS. This is about the same proportion as Turkey, a much poorer country.

Should the Government allow a flawed decision-making process, which has not captured the complex and long-term nature of MS, to deny people with MS the treatments they genuinely need?

Ultimately, do we want the NHS to be respected across the world or do we want an NHS in which NICE denies access to key treatments widely used in other countries?

How to contact your elected representative:

Contact details for Westminster MPs

You can find out who your MP is by using the constituency locata on the parliamentary website at .

House of Commons
Tel: (House of Commons switchboard) 020 7219 3000


For MPís email addresses see  Not all MPís have an email address.

Contact details for the Welsh Assembly:

National Assembly for Wales
Cardiff Bay
CF99 1NA

Tel (Public Information unit):029 29 898 200


Contact details for the Scottish Parliament:

The Scottish Parliament
EH99 1SP

The Parliament may be contacted by telephone on 0845 278 1999.

See for MSP email addresses.

Contact details for the Northern Ireland Assembly:

Public Information Office
Northern Ireland Assembly
Parliament Buildings

Tel : 028 9052 1333
Fax :028 9052 1961
E-mail :

We will, of course, continue to keep you informed of developments through this website and MS Matters our membership magazine.

You can be assured that we will do everything in our power to make sure that the final decision is the right one.  Thank you, once again, for your support. 


NICE covers only England and Wales. We know NICEís decision is likely to influence decisions taken in other parts of the UK though.

In Scotland the Health Technology Board will consider the eventual NICE verdict and review it to see whether it requires adaptation in Scotland, by the beginning of 2002.

In Northern Ireland a decision will be taken by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety

[1]Prime Ministerís Questions 18-7-00