Relief for MS sufferers as pill gets green light

MS patient Claire MacRae says the pill fingolimod, below, has changed her life. Picture: Ian Rutherford
MS patient Claire MacRae says the pill fingolimod, below, has changed her life. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A WOMAN with multiple sclerosis today told of her delight after the world’s first oral pill to treat her condition was finally approved for use in Scotland.

Claire MacRae, 36, struggled to cope with the severe side-effects caused by interferon injections which are normally given to patients with MS.

Fingolimod, the world's first oral pill for MS sufferers. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Fingolimod, the world's first oral pill for MS sufferers. Picture: Ian Georgeson

She was put on a clinical trial for the new pill, called fingolimod, which she says changed her life.

And other MS sufferers will now be able to benefit, after the Scottish Medicines Consortium this week approved its widespread use on the NHS, after previously turning down an application in March.

Claire, from Uphall, West Lothian, was diagnosed with MS when she was just 31, and said: “For me the pill has been fantastic. It’s great that now more people are going to have access to it.

“When I had the injections, the side-effects were horrible. It was like having the flu for one day a week. I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed.

“But the drug has meant my MS has stabilised – it’s made a huge difference to my life.”

The condition has meant Claire and her husband Duncan, have had to give up on their dreams of starting a family, while she also had to stop snowboarding.

Claire has so far been unable to return to her job at Apple, where she was Scottish education manager.

But she has not suffered a relapse since 2009 – before she started the new treatment.

“When I heard the news that the pill had been approved I was delighted,” she added. “There are thousands like me who the injections just don’t work for.” Previously, MS patients in Scotland were the only ones in the UK who did not have access to fingolimod, despite the country having the highest prevalence of MS cases in the world.

daniel.sanderson@edinburghnews.com