All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for June 2003

Fears over MS drug access

Thursday, 12 June, 2003, 07:06 GMT 08:06 UK

Patients with multiple sclerosis say access to potentially life-changing drugs depends on where you live in Wales.

The MS society claim patients in the Swansea area are not being prescribed beta interferon, despite money being made available more than a year ago to fund prescription of the drug.

Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the nervous system for which there is no cure - beta interferon has been successfully used in some cases to slow down its progression.

Last year, the Welsh assembly government granted £1.7m to fund specialist centres which can prescribe beta interferon.

However, there is no centre in Swansea.

Derek Haslim has been living with MS for the last nine years - relapses can leave him unable to move.


He fears he cannot wait much longer before his complaint deteriorates.

"I need this drug," he said.

"If this drug is going to be beneficial to me, why shouldn't I get it?

"Why should I have to pay the money out when it should be available on the NHS?"

Swansea Health Board says it is allocating funds to support patients in the area - a meeting is being planned for next week.

The assembly scheme - to allow sufferers to be prescribed beta interferon and other drugs on the NHS - was due to start in 2002.

Beta interferon first became available eight years ago.

The drugs are very expensive, costing up to £10,000 per patient a year, and do not work for all patients.

Copyright © 2003, BBC