Multiple Sclerosis

Department of Health written question – answered on 23rd February 2015.

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Photo of Margaret Ritchie Margaret Ritchie Shadow SDLP Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow SDLP Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the diagnosis and treatment of multiple sclerosis.

Photo of Margaret Ritchie Margaret Ritchie Shadow SDLP Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow SDLP Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what recent assessment he has made of trends in the rates of people being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Photo of Norman Lamb Norman Lamb The Minister of State, Department of Health

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance Multiple sclerosis: management of multiple sclerosis in primary and secondary care, updated in October 2014, states that around 100,000 people in the United Kingdom have multiple sclerosis (MS). Estimates from studies on annual incidence are more uncertain, and vary between 2,500 and 6,000 newly diagnosed cases each year. About 85 out of 100 people with MS have relapsing–remitting MS (RRMS) where periods of stability (remission) are followed by episodes when there are exacerbations of symptoms (relapses). About 10 to 15 out of 100 people with MS have primary progressive MS where symptoms gradually develop and worsen over time from the start, without ever experiencing relapses and remissions.

The guidance sets out a range of initial assessments a clinician should make including testing of vision and blood tests before referral to a consultant neurologist who can confirm or exclude a diagnosis of MS, subject to investigation. The guidance makes a range of recommendations on the pharmacological and non-pharmacological management of MS. NICE has recommended a number of drugs for the treatment of MS and is currently appraising Nerventra (laquinimod) for RRMS and ilenya (fingolimod) for primary-progressive MS. In addition over 18,000 patients have benefitted from disease-modifying treatments through the MS risk sharing scheme, established by the Department in 2002.

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