Calls to bring NHS England in line with Wales and make ‘life-changing’ MS drug free
There are calls to bring NHS England in line with Wales by making a “life changing” drug for treating multiple sclerosis (MS) free.
In England, patients who have the debilitating condition are forced to fork out up to £600 a month for the medication, and Labour MP Margaret Hodge hit out at the “postcode lottery”.
She says this “failure” has “severely impacted” the life of one of her constituents and has accused Sajid Javid, England’s Health Secretary of “lagging behind”.
David Martin, the Chief Executive of The MS Trust has also called for “fair access to this treatment across the UK”.
Fampridine has been available on the National Health Service in Scotland and Wales for over a year.
However, it has yet to be made available on the same basis in England and Northern Ireland.
The drug is part of a group of medicines known as potassium channel blockers, which helps people with MS to walk with more ease and lowers the risk of falling.
According to an estimate from the MS Society around 40,000 people in England would benefit from the use of the drug if they were able to have it prescribed on the NHS instead of having to buy it over the counter.
In a letter to Sajid Javid, England’s Health Secretary, Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP, urged him make the medication available after one of her constituents’ ability to walk improved dramatically after his use of it.
She wrote: “It is not acceptable to find NHS England lagging behind and failing to offer access to fampridine for free. This failure has created a postcode lottery for MS sufferers that has severely impacted on the life of my constituent.”
David Martin, the Chief Executive of The MS Trust, told The Guardian: “In England people with MS are being forced to make difficult choices on whether to pay for a medication that they could get for free in other parts of the UK. We at the MS Trust don’t think this is fair.
“We know that fampridine can make a difference to some people with MS who experience walking difficulties and the MS Trust would like to see fair access to this treatment across the UK.”