More MS news articles for Dec 2001

"End Postcode Prescribing" in Tayside Call

Saturday, December 15, 2001

Scottish National Party leader John Swinney and MSP Shona Robison today urged the government to make a drug more widely available to multiple sclerosis sufferers in Scotland, writes Graeme Strachan.

The politicians urged the government to make more resources available to the health service to end "postcode prescribing" of Beta Interferon, while visiting the neurosciences department at Ninewells Hospital today.

Beta Interferon has been shown to decrease the number of relapses by a third, and the severity of relapses by a half, in some MS sufferers and it also alters the progression of the disease.

Postcode prescribing became an issue in Dundee when it was revealed that only eight patients in Tayside who could benefit from Beta Interferon were receiving the treatment as it costs £10,000 a year for each patient.

Mr Swinney called on the government to "extend and expand" the availability of the drug, which could stop the advance of the debilitating illness and allow more patients across Scotland to benefit.

"There are only a very limited number of people in Tayside who have access to Beta Interferon," he said.

"With wider access Iím sure we could make a difference to treatment of individuals, but again it comes back to that same debate about resources."

"I urge the government to move very quickly on extending and expan-ding the availability of Beta Interferon as it would do a great deal to address concerns among members of the public."

"We have to be prepared to properly fund the health service and give it the resources it requires.

"I think the government has dodged away from that responsibility and we have to confront that debate in relation to the future funding of the health service," he added.

He added there was a perception within the minds of the public that the drug would be beneficial for sufferers.


MSP Shona Robison joined Mr Swinney to talk to neurologists today.

She said staff were increasingly "frustrated" they were unable to prescribe the drug more widely.

She said the visit had also given her a better understanding of how stretched resources are in the neurosciences department at Ninewells Hospital and the critical need for more neurologists and MS nurses.