Friday September 15 10:31 AM ET
LONDON (Reuters Health) - A petition with more than 120,000 signatures was handed to 10 Downing Street on Thursday urging the UK Government not to ban reimbursement of drugs for multiple sclerosis.
The petition was organised by the Multiple Sclerosis Society--one of several organisations appealing against the provisional decision of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) that there is insufficient evidence of benefit to justify the cost of beta interferon drugs.
"How will Tony Blair (news - web sites) and Alan Milburn (Health Secretary) be able to live with their consciences if thousands of people are denied the only treatments which can really help them?" asked the society's chairman, Sarah Phillips.
NICE will hear appeals from the MS Society and drug manufacturers on September 22. The final decision is expected in October.
The society believes around 10,000 of the estimated 85,000 with MS in the UK qualify for the drugs under existing clinical guidelines.
It says current UK prescribing rates are less than a quarter of those
in North America, France and Germany.