Many readers will have heard about the proposal from NICE, the government's advisory body on health treatments, that it is proposed to stop prescribing the new beta interferon drugs for people with MS. This is heartbreaking news for people who have been waiting for treatment, sometimes for years, as a result of the NHS 'postcode lottery'.
NICE does not argue with the scientific evidence that these drugs work by cutting the number of attacks that people with MS suffer. But it says that this is not enough to justify the cost. True, the drugs are expensive, but so is MS and NICE does not recognise this. Most of the cost of MS attacks does not fall on the NHS, but on local social services and housing, on employers, social security and on the families of those affected.
We think this ruling is a great injustice: there are no other treatments for MS that alter the course of this terrible disease, and the government has played cat and mouse with us since they were first licensed five years ago. If readers feel strongly about this too, they can help by writing to tell Alan Milburn, Secretary of State for Health, Richmond House, Whitehall, London SW1A 2NS.