MS patients question removal of drug by Queen’s Hospital, Romford

Two multiple-sclerosis (MS) patients are angry after being told they can no longer have a drug which they say made a huge difference to their lives.

Bob Armstrong, from Rainham, and Valerie Abernethy, of Billericay, were both prescribed Sativex at Queen’s Hospital a month ago and found it had helped their symptoms.

But last week they were each told that, despite the benefits it brought to them, they couldn’t have it because it ‘hadn’t improved movement in their limbs’ enough.

Bob, 69, of Kenway, said that while he was on the medication he was able to sleep properly for the first time in years.

He said: “Like everything else in life, if there isn’t pain you can do things.

“It just seems like a waste of time that they put me on it but took it away again.”

Valerie, 63, who was diagnosed with MS in 2001, said: “It was wonderful and really does help, it’s made more of a difference to me than anything else I’ve been on.

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“The doctor said we needed to make a 40 per cent improvement, but how he measured that I’m not sure.”

Relatives of the patients questioned whether the decisions had been made for financial reasons rather than clinical ones when they contacted the Recorder.

But consultant neurologist, Abhijit Chaudhuri, said: “This trust has a very successful MS service, and gives patients the opportunity to take part in a range of clinical trials.

“In this case, Sativex was being trialled to see if it would improve movement in their limbs.

“It is clearly explained the patients before the trial begins that they will be assessed after four weeks to see if their movement has improved by at least 40 per cent. If it has not, then the trial will not be continued, in line with an agreed protocol which the Trust must adhere to.

“Although both patients said they had seen a reduction in their pain while they were on the drug, this is not what Sativex is designed for, and it cannot be prescribed solely for that purpose.”

He insists that cost was not an issue in the decision not to let the patients continue with the medicine.