More MS news articles for Feb 2002

Nursing funds to speed MS drugs trial

20 February 2002
By reporters

The Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society has joined forces with three drug companies to partially fund the training and salaries of NHS nurses to assist in a nationwide “trial” of new MS drugs.

Earlier this month, the Department of Health agreed to provide beta interferon and glatiramer acetate to 10,000 MS patients. Under the scheme, drug companies will reimburse the NHS for individual cases where the drugs fail. The deal follows advice from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence, which ruled the drugs should not be available on the NHS.

Together with the charity, pharmaceutical companies Biogen and Serono, which make beta interferon, and Teva, which makes glatiramer acetate, will provide £800,000 to fund nurses at specialist MS centres throughout the UK. The centres are charged with the assessment, prescription and monitoring of MS patients participating in the trial.

Sharon Haffenden, director of research and services at the MS Society, said the government’s decision to fund the drugs was welcome but would put a strain on the health service.

“It does present a considerable challenge to existing NHS resources to assess people as soon as possible and then continue to monitor them,” she said.

Ms Haffenden said the society’s fast-track nursing scheme would help the project by providing more specially trained staff capable of contributing to the work of the specialist centres.

The nursing programme builds on the society’s MS Nurse Fund and could put in place up to another 25 specialist nurses to add to the 28 already in post.

© Health Media Ltd 2002