Mother-of-three 'delighted' at news
18 June 2003
A young Ulster mum told today how she is to finally get a new life-changing wonder drug for her crippling condition - 15 months after being told she needed it.
Multiple sclerosis sufferer Orla McCusker, from Cookstown, will begin treatment with beta interferon next week.
She had been at the top of a waiting list for the drug since March last year.
Now she is hoping that the long wait has not resulted in a major deterioriation in her condition.
The mother of three young children added: "At the time I was told it could be October or November before I would have the treatment and that I was near to the top of the waiting list,
"I am delighted I'm finally getting the drug.
"I do not know what damage has been caused in the meantime. At the moment my vision is blurred.
"Patients who have been on the drug have seen the progress of the illness slow down. That would be fantastic.
"There is a major sense of relief for me.
"At the moment I cannot do anything more for my condition with conventional treatment."
Rising waiting lists for beta interferon had been blamed on cash and staffing problems.
It is understood interviews have taken place for extra nursing staff and plans drawn up for regional joint medical/nursing clinics.
Last year, each of the province's four health boards were given extra cash to treat MS patients who needed the drug.
DUP MP Iris Robinson has long been calling for more patients to be treated with the drug.
She said recently: "New drugs including beta interferon and glatiramer acetate can prevent relapses in multiple sclerosis and limit otherwise progressive deterioration.
"Last year local patients were advised their treatment was being delayed by staffing limitations.
"If patients do not receive new medications soon, the potential to benefit will be lost because their disease will have progressed too far.
"Multiple sclerosis is the most common disabling neurological condition
in young adults."
Copyright © 2003, Belfast Telegraph