UK Launches Fast-Track Multiple Sclerosis Drug Plan
Tue Feb 19, 5:33 PM ET
By Richard Woodman

LONDON (Reuters Health) - Britain's Multiple Sclerosis Society on Tuesday announced a "fast-track" plan to help speed up the prescription of new MS drugs.

The Department of Health and drug manufacturers recently agreed on a risk-sharing scheme whereby beta interferon and glatiramer acetate would be funded as part of a study to determine the drugs' long term effectiveness.

But medical specialists warned it could take up to 18 months before all patients who might meet the criteria for therapy could be assessed and started on the drugs.

Responding to these concerns, the society said that manufacturers and the society had agreed to provide £800,000 in joint funding to appoint nurses at the specialist centres who will assess patients, prescribe treatment and monitor progress.

"The Department's initiative in launching a long-term national study of MS drugs, involving all those whom neurologists believe could benefit, is greatly welcomed," said Sharon Haffenden, the Society's director of research and services, in a statement.

"However, it does present a considerable challenge to existing National Health Service resources to assess people as soon as possible and then continue to monitor them. The fast-track scheme we have devised will be a major factor in making that happen."

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