Date: 2001-05-24 16:26:00
By Vivienne Russell
The Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society has hit out at Health Secretary Alan Milburn for suggesting it should lobby pharmaceutical companies to bring down the price of drug treatments.
The remarks were made to members of the society’s Darlington branch, who sought a meeting Mr Milburn, their constituency MP.
Peter Cardy, the society’s chief executive, said he was “astonished” at the health secretary’s comments. People with MS “have already endured years of the postcode prescribing lottery and many months of bungling by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, which was set up to end it”, he said.
“Now, incredibly, they are being told that the answer lies in their own hands.”
MS sufferer Robert Adamson, the Liberal Democrat candidate in Darlington, said, “What a cheek to expect charities to do the work of the NHS.”
The Liberal Democrats believe governments can do more to bring drug costs down. “Why is the NHS paying the highest prices for drugs in Europe?” Mr Adamson asked.
Mr Milburn’s office did not offer a response.
Mr Milburn also faces an electoral challenge from Dr Craig Platt, a consultant pathologist at Staffordshire General Hospital. Dr Platt is standing as an independent because he feels the views of rank and file NHS staff have been overlooked.
Conservative Health Spokesman Dr Liam Fox welcomed Dr Platt’s decision. “[Mr Milburn] will be forced to listen to someone with real experience, who represents an increasingly angry and disillusioned medical profession,” he said.
© Health Media Ltd 2001