July 15, 2003
Multiple Sclerosis Society
A 31-year-old UK woman has travelled to Brussels to ask the European Parliament for equal access across Europe to the most effective available treatments for multiple sclerosis, the most common potentially disabling neurological disease affecting young adults in the western world.
Louise McVay, from Loughborough, petitioned the Parliament in 2001 when she was being denied beta interferon, one of the only drugs proved to reduce the frequency and severity of MS attacks or relapses. Since then, she has begun treatment under an innovative scheme launched by the UK government which will monitor the long-term effectiveness of the drugs for people meeting criteria set by the UK Association of British Neurologists.
Said Louise, before addressing the Parliament's Petitions Committee, "After years of waiting, I now have this treatment. But many thousands of the 400,000 people who have MS across the EU are still waiting. I know the depths of frustration those people feel as they fear their condition may have progressed too far for them to qualify for treatment. Their numbers will increase with the accession of the 10 new member states to the Union."
The European Multiple Sclerosis Platform, representing 29 national MS Societies, recently endorsed treatment guidelines drawn up by MS specialists. A European Parliament interest group, chaired by Scottish MEP, Catherine Stihler, has highlighted the need for more co-ordinated patient-centred research into MS therapies.
Said EMSP secretary-general, Christoph Thalheim, "The inequity of care for people with MS across Europe stands in stark contrast to the Union's values of human rights and non-discrimination. It also raises important issues around quality of life and the effective use of resources, not least in people's ability to contribute in the workplace.
"We are pleased the Parliament has recognised the wider significance
of Louise's petition and hope today's committee session will lead to a
report highlighting the problem and identifying areas of action which will
lead to fair treatment and better quality of life for every European affected
Copyright © 2003, Multiple Sclerosis Society