More MS news articles for Oct 2001

'How MS drug helped me'

Wednesday, 31 October, 2001, 08:27 GMT

The BBC has learnt that the government is proposing clinical trials of controversial multiple sclerosis drug, beta-interferon.

One man tells BBC News Online how the drug has kept his disease at bay for the past two years.

When Neil Bloom was diagnosed with MS 18 years ago, beta-interferon was not even on the horizon, and a slow but steady decline was forecast.

Neil has the relapsing-remitting form of the disease, although his symptoms of his attacks are not as severe as in some other MS cases.

However, he still feared that he would not be able to carry on working, and, more recently, that he might not even be able to go on days out with his daughters.

Beta-interferon, he says, has changed that.

He was put on the drug in 1998, and a year later, noticed that the frequency of disabling "relapses" was falling away.

"Normally I'd have three relapses a year - the effects of these could last anything between six weeks and five days.

"I would feel very tired, and have problems with my right hand, as well as pain in my legs.

"Although there was no change in the first year I was taking the drug, then I went through a divorce - which was a very stressful time, and I would have expected a major relapse.

"I didn't have one until much later, and it was very mild."

Since then, he has only had one other relapse, and again it was mild.

He said beta-interferon has made a marked difference to his health.

"I can understand that there are some people for whom it makes no difference, but there are certainly some for whom it is making a big difference.

"For me it means the difference between working and not working - between being able to take my two children bowling or ice skating or not."

He rejected as "rubbish" findings from the government's own advisory body that the drug was not "cost effective".

"Surely it's better for me to be working, to be contributing something to the economy, rather than simply taking benefits.

"I just want to live as normal a life as possible, and beta-interferon helps me do that.

"There are many, many other people out there who should have this benefit too."