Monday, October 30, 2006

Assembly offers more help for MS patients

Health Minister Dr Brian Gibbons today announced £700,000 extra to meet the increasing need for high cost drugs to treat Welsh patients with Multiple Sclerosis. The extra money will go to hospitals that treat Welsh MS patients and comes on top of the yearly £2.5 million the Assembly provides for Welsh MS patients to access Disease Modifying Therapies (DMTs).

This extra Welsh Assembly funding is great news for MS patients in Bridgend. This extra money for specialist therapies will be an invaluable boost for those who suffer from MS and all those MS patients who will really benefit from the therapies can now start treatment at the earliest opportunity.

This Labour Welsh Assembly Government is committed to ensuring that all patients in Wales can access the best possible treatment. That is why along with the extra money the Assembly will be reviewing MS care in Wales to gain a better idea of how to help those who suffer from the condition.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a demyelinating disease of the central nervous system. It is the most frequent cause of neurological disability in young adults, and it is characterised by chronic relapse and disease progression. There is no effective cure for MS, however a group of drugs, which includes Beta Interferon and Glatiramer Acetate, known as the disease modifying therapies (DMTs) are aimed at reducing the number and severity of relapses and slowing disease progression.

On the balance of clinical and cost effectiveness, neither beta interferon nor glatriamer acetate were recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) for the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis in the NHS in England and Wales. The MS Risk Sharing Scheme was however established in 2002 following an invitation by NICE for the Department of Health, the Welsh Assembly Government and manufacturers to consider what actions could be taken to enable Disease Modifying Therapies (DMTs) for MS to be provided in a cost effective way and appraised over a ten year period.


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