7:34 a.m. ET (1234 GMT) February 3, 2000
LONDON, Feb 3 - A British multiple sclerosis charity on Thursday called for a drug it says can improve the quality of life for sufferers to be more widely prescribed on the country's National Health Service.
The London-based Multiple Sclerosis Society says beta interferon offers the only prospect of reducing the frequency of relapses for sufferers of the disease, which attacks the central nervous system.
In a submission to the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), the society said further placebo-controlled trials of the drug would be "neither ethical nor viable'' and called for it to be made more widely available.
"We have told NICE that denying a treatment which is both proven and licensed is unacceptable, not only to people with MS, their families and carers but to health professionals and the public at large,'' said society chief executive Peter Cardy.
"There is unequivocal evidence from clinical trials and the much longer use of beta interferon in other countries that the drug significantly improves quality of life for many people.''
NICE, which was set up to advise on the efficacy and cost-effectiveness
of treatments and take the heat out of political decisions on expensive
new drugs, is carrying out an appraisal of beta interferons.