Wednesday 19 December 2018

Partner of late Marie Fleming in MS drug plea

Tom Curran with Marie Fleming. Picture: Garry O'Neill
Tom Curran with Marie Fleming. Picture: Garry O'Neill
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Tom Curran, the partner of the late "right to die" campaigner Marie Fleming, is hopeful of success in the lengthy campaign to make a breakthrough multiple sclerosis drug available on State schemes.

A decision is expected to be made later this month by the health service on Fampyra, which helps some sufferers of the disease with their mobility but currently costs them between €220 and €500 a month.

Mr Curran is to shortly mark the first anniversary of the death of Ms Fleming, who died of multiple sclerosis and had gone to the courts in a bid to be allowed the right to die if she chose.

He said yesterday that he was hopeful the cost of the drug, made by Biogen Idec, would be set at a price which could be accepted by the HSE.

However, questions are now being asked about its efficacy, he added.

"It is not a curative drug but then a lot of the other drugs don't cure either. It helps mobility and the most of the MS patients it would benefit is around 30pc.

"But the effects that it has on them are almost miraculous."

However he added: "We are saying it is very easy to identify those who will benefit.

"At maximum, it is clear in a month if someone is benefiting or not.

"Also it only affects people with mobility problems so it does not have to be given to all 7,000 MS patients," he added.

Some of the MS drugs that are being given at the moment, as well as some for other neurological diseases, "cost far more than Fampyra," he added.

And people who are helped by it are a benefit to the State because some have already been able to continue working or return to employment as a result of its effects, he added.

Mr Curran, who is still very involved in the carers' association, looked after his partner over 15 years and the illness reached an advanced stage.

Her anniversary will be on December 20, he added.

After losing her court battle, she died peacefully in her home in Arklow, Co Wicklow.

He said yesterday he had a lot of memories of Marie but would have liked more.

The assessment of the drug is being carried out by the Centre for Pharmacoeconomics, which will make a recommendation to the HSE.

Irish Independent

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