McGrigor backs campaign to improve access to MS medicines

Jamie McGrigor, Highlands & Islands MSP, has pledged to help ensure that all people living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in Scotland have better access to treatments, regardless of where they live.

This comes as the MS Society reveals that people with the condition often face significant barriers in accessing licensed treatments, the information they require to decide what is right for themselves, and the specialists who can help.

Marking MS Week (28 April - 4 May), the MS Society launched its new campaign Treat Me Right during an event last night at the Scottish Parliament.  The campaign calls on decision-makers and the MS community to tackle the barriers which frequently stand in the way of people getting the right treatment at the right time.

Jamie attended the event to show his support for the Treat Me Right campaign and to meet people living with the condition.

He said:

“I congratulate the MS Society for launching this important campaign.  MS affects a significant number of my constituents in the Highlands & Islands and they should be able to access the most effective licensed treatments”.

Stewart Long, Interim Director for the MS Society in Scotland, said:

“There are over 11,000 people living with MS in Scotland, and it is essential that people living with the condition can access the right treatments, services, and support.  Unfortunately, many people are in the dark about, or unable to access, medicines that could potentially help manage their condition.

“This needs to change.

“We have been delighted by the support we have received from MSPs for our Treat Me Right campaign.

"By working together we can make that change happen”.

Jamie McGrigor MSP at the MS Society's Treat Me Right campaign event at the Scottish Parliament

Above: Jamie McGrigor MSP attended the Treat Me Right event at the Scottish Parliament building this week

FACT FILE

MS Society research has found that:

  • 1 in 5 people surveyed with relapsing MS had not seen their neurologist in the last 12 months, with 1 in 10 not having seen a neurologist in over two years
  • 1 in 5 people surveyed with relapsing MS had not heard of any disease-modifying medicines or had heard of only one
  • People are more than twice as likely to be taking a disease-modifying medicine if they routinely see a neurologist or MS nurse
  • Only 1 in every 50 people with MS is taking one of two licensed treatments for managing MS symptoms

The MS Society has warned that if nothing is done to improve access to treatments, thousands could be worse off as they struggle to manage their symptoms or continue to face serious and debilitating relapses  -  leaving them unable to work or more reliant on expensive NHS services.

During MS Week 2014 (28 April - 4 May), the charity, in addition to launching the Treat Me Right campaign, is calling for:

  • all licensed MS treatments to be approved and made available on the NHS to everyone who needs them and who is eligible
  • everyone with MS to be invited for regular reviews of their treatment and care by MS specialists
  • in light of new disease-modifying drugs (DMD) options becoming available, people with relapsing MS to be informed about all their options and invited to discuss them with a specialist
  • all people with MS to feel (i) informed about their options and (ii) supported to be equal partners in decision-making about their care

The MS Society is the leading national charity for people with MS.  It lists its main activities as (i) the funding of research and (ii) fighting for better treatment and care to help people with MS take back control.  It has made what it describes as important breakthroughs, and believes that it stands at the start of a generation of MS research which holds what the charity describes as “incredible promise”.

MS Society figures provide that, UK-wide, more than 100,000 people live with MS, and that more than 11,000 people in Scotland live with the condition.

Most people who are diagnosed with MS receive the diagnosis when they are in their 20s or 30s.  The condition affects almost three times as many women as men.

MS can get steadily worse, or can remain unpredictable throughout a person’s life.  One day, the person with MS can be fine; the next, they might lose their sight or be unable to move.

The MS Society operates a Freephone helpline at 0808 800 8000.