Revolutionary MS drug must be free – Marie's widower
THE partner of the late Marie Fleming has backed a campaign calling on the Government to make a new "revolutionary" drug available on a state scheme to multiple sclerosis sufferers.
Tom Curran, whose partner Marie died from the condition late last year, has said that his only concern is that "people with MS are given the best opportunity that they can possibly have", and he has vowed to ensure that they have access to the "remarkable" drug Frampya.
Frampya has been made available here for the past two years to a number of patients by its manufacturer, Biogen Idec. However, this will end in June.
Several patients living with the incurable condition who took the drug have cited almost miraculous effects, including improvements to their mobility and walking speed.
However, they will now be forced to pay up to €500 to continue receiving it as it is not covered by the Long-Term Illness card or the Drug Repayment Scheme.
It is understood that the drug has only proven to work on about one-third of those who have tried it, one of the reasons being cited as why it will not be included in any state scheme.
However, Mr Curran said that he was asking that the drug be made available to those who have seen positive effects. "We are not asking for it to be made available to everybody, just the people that it is effective for."
The 65-year-old also agreed that introducing the drug to those who find it effective would be a "saving for the State".
"Even when Marie was in her late stages of MS, she was taking something like 40 tablets per day to combat the symptoms, and if that can be kept at bay surely there is an overall saving to the State," he added.
An initial assessment by the drugs sector of the HSE found it would cost €7m annually in five years. Just weeks ago, a HSE spokesperson told this paper that Biogen Idec had failed to demonstrate formal justification of the prices proposed in May 2013, and it can submit a revised application.
Triona Bromwell lives with MS and has launched a petition, which has already gathered almost 3,000 signatures.