I was delighted to have been able to support an event sponsored by the Multiple Sclerosis Society in Parliament today. I have received a number of letters from constituents who suffer from this debilitating condition explaining the devastating effect it has had on their lives and those of their family members. Living with progressive MS is often painful and exhausting. It can cause problems with how people walk, move, see, think and feel, and symptoms will gradually get worse over time. More than 100,000 people in the UK have MS, a condition which stays for life, although there are treatments and specialists to help manage the condition and its symptoms.
I was heartened to hear that the European Medicines Agency has licenced a drug called Ocrelizumab which is the first effective treatment for people with early primary progressive MS, which affects about 10-15% of people diagnosed with MS in the UK, and that this drug is proving successful in slowing the progress of primary progressive MS. I can certainly understand the frustrations felt by many sufferers when Ocrelizumab was rejected by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) based on cost, but am pleased to hear that Roche, NHS England and NICE have begun talks on how they might be able to make the drug available on the NHS.
I very much support this. Making Ocrelizumab available at a price that the NHS can afford would give sufferers, including many in my constituency, real hope that they can access a drug which will slow down their disability progression and improve their lives.