All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for December 2003

People with MS assisted by pioneering drug scheme

25 November 2003
Department of Health News Release (2003/0477) issued by the Government News Network

New figures, released today, show that thousands of people with multiple sclerosis are now benefiting from drug therapies, as a direct result of a ground-breaking Government initiative launched last year, said Health Minister, Lord Warner.

The MS "risk sharing scheme" is an innovative way of securing MS therapies on behalf of NHS patients, as a result of a joint venture between the Department of Health, drug manufacturers and patient bodies. So far:

Lord Warner said: "This scheme has gone a long way towards ending the uncertainty that affected thousands of people with MS around their treatment with these therapies. Early treatment can make a real difference in delaying the progression of MS; and these figures confirm that people with MS are now getting better access to drugs that can postpone the advance of the disease."

Dr Mike Boggild, Consultant Neurologist at the Walton Centre in Liverpool, and lead clinician for the risk-sharing scheme, said: "It's no secret that this scheme was somewhat slow to get off the ground, and that there were teething problems at the beginning.  However, we are now towards the end of that initial eighteen month period - the majority of problems have been overcome - and very good progress has been made, with the majority of patients now having been assessed.

"The scheme will lead to long term benefits for people with MS, not just in terms of medicines or therapies, but with tangible resources such as new clinics and increased specialist staff."

Lord Warner also welcomed the publication today of the MS National Clinical Guideline for NHS Management in Primary and Secondary Care produced by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.

He said: "The introduction of this guideline will, for the first time, provide a benchmark for good practice within the NHS for MS services, bringing real benefits to patients."

The guideline will be relevant to adults of all ages with MS and will cover the full range of care that should be routinely made available from the NHS, including appropriate use of mainstream pharmacological, physical therapy, rehabilitative and psychosocial treatments.


1. The NICE guidance is available on

2. The scheme allows products to be prescribed to patients who meet criteria devised by the Association of British Neurologists (ABN), including those with secondary progressive MS in which relapses are the dominant feature as long as they meet the ABN criteria.

3. All patients meeting the criteria will be thoroughly assessed to establish the extent of their disability. This is necessary to provide a baseline to monitor the patient's progress with the treatment. Generally, patients will then be seen each year for a further assessment of their condition. Information from the initial and subsequent assessments will be anonymised and sent to the scheme co-ordinator appointed to analyse the data from the scheme. Patients are asked to consent to their inclusion in the arrangements to monitor the scheme.

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