Wednesday, February 28, 2007

JK Rowling Condemns MS Drug Ban Ahead of Holyrood Debate

EDINBURGH, Scotland, February 28 /PRNewswire/ -- JK Rowling, patron of the MS Society Scotland, has condemned a decision that denies people affected by aggressive multiple sclerosis (MS) access to a new drug on the NHS ahead of a debate in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday (1 March).

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) advised against the use of Tysabri - a drug for people affected by severe relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) - on economic grounds back in December.

Jo Rowling, patron of Scotland's largest MS charity, said: "I know from personal experience that MS can have a devastating effect on everyone that comes into contact with it. My mother suffered terribly with MS and it was so frustrating that there was little or nothing doctors could do to help her.

"If a drug can help tackle MS - particularly the very aggressive type of relapsing MS we are talking about - it should not be ruled out because of cost alone.

"Once again, decisions about treatment are being made by accountants rather than clinicians, and I hope MSPs will speak up on behalf of the thousands of families affected by MS across Scotland."

MS Society Scotland director Mark Hazelwood said: "Tysabri is an important treatment choice for the small number of people who suffer repeated, disabling relapses and who don't respond to current MS drugs.

"We at the MS Society believe people affected by MS in Scotland should have the same access to treatments as their counterparts do in Ireland, Germany, the USA and elsewhere. More than 10,000 people are now taking this drug worldwide, but we are barely out of the starting blocks.

"The Minister has indicated that he is not prepared to look again at the SMC's decision, but we very much hope the door is not closed."

Tricia Marwick MSP will be holding a briefing for media and MSPs at the Scottish Parliament today (28 February) in room P1.02 at 6pm, which Mark Hazelwood will attend with neurologist Belinda Weller and Fiona Burns, a person with MS. Thursday's member's debate takes place at 5pm.

Notes to Editors:

- The MS Society Scotland ( is Scotland's largest charity dedicated to supporting everyone whose life is affected by MS.

- More than 10,000 people have MS in Scotland, with one in 500 people affected. This is the highest rate in the world.

- MS is the result of damage to myelin - the protective sheath surrounding nerve fibres of the central nervous system - which interferes with messages between the brain and the body.

- For some people, MS is characterised by periods of relapse and remission while for others it has a progressive pattern.

Distributed by PR Newswire on behalf of Multiple Sclerosis Society

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