All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for March 2003

Mother wins battle for MS drug

Wednesday, 26 March, 2003, 16:11 GMT

A woman who is going blind because of multiple sclerosis has won her fight to be treated with a drug that slows the onset of the disease.

Kate Egglestone, 30, from Long Bennington near Grantham in Lincolnshire, campaigned for four years to be prescribed the drug copaxone.

Her eyesight has deteriorated so badly that she needs help from her two young children to cross the road.

Consultants at the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham recommended she take a drug that treats some of the symptoms of the disease.

Costly treatment

Local NHS officials had refused the treatment when she first applied for assistance four years ago.

But last May, the government said more than 600 patients in the East Midlands would be screened to see if they were suitable.

West Lincolnshire Primary Care Trust has now agreed to pay for the treatment, which can cost £6,000 a year per patient.

The trust said on Wednesday that a shortage of consultants had delayed the assessment of her case, and it apologised for the delay.

Ms Egglestone said she should not have had to campaign for a treatment that she says she deserves.

"We were a little bit shocked when we found out the news after such a long wait," she said.

"It is not an easy treatment as I will be injecting (the drug) every single day."

Spinal cord

The NHS looks at patients with multiple sclerosis and decides who is eligible to receive funding for treatment with drugs such as beta interferon and copaxone.

Only those with certain forms of the disease are eligible, and patients have to fit other criteria before receiving the drugs.

Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative condition affecting the sheath which encloses the spinal cord, insulating the electrical impulses it carries from the brain to the muscles.

Patients can suffer from disabling "relapses" which over time cause severe disability.

There is some evidence that drug treatment, can, in some patients, decrease the frequency of the relapses, slowing down the progressive decline of the patient.

© Copyright 2003, BBC