Left to face the pain as drug is denied

By Connie Osborne Friday 04 July 2014 Updated: 07/07 12:01

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Buy photos » MS sufferer Yvette Hodges is calling for the drug Savitex to be available to her and others in the same position. Picture by Marcus Mingins 2714031MMR1

A MULTIPLE Sclerosis sufferer has been denied a drug which could ease her excruciating pain because it is not 'value for money'.

Health commissioners have refused to fund the cannabis mouth spray Sativex for Yvette Hodges, despite claims it could ease the muscle spasms in her legs.

The 39-year-old was diagnosed with MS two years ago and the condition affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, causing problems with muscle movement, balance and vision.

She was recommended the approved drug by her neurologist after years of using morphine to try and stop the pain.

But the Worcestershire Area Prescribing Committee has recommended commissioners do not fund the drug because of limitations in trial data and evidence of value for money.

Speaking to the Standard the Winyates East resident said the drug could have a life changing affect as at times she was confined to a wheelchair. She added she knew of other sufferers living in the London area who were allowed the drug.

"24 hours a day I'm in pain, I suffer in my legs really badly, and you just can't ignore it," she said.

"That pain day in and day out gets you down, you almost feel like you don't want to carry on sometimes.

"To know this drug could help me, even just a little bit, and I can't have it because of where I live is very frustrating.

"Up until these last few years I have worked since the age of 16. I have paid into our healthcare system, yet I'm now allowed to use it when I really need it.

"Why create a drug like this to then say to people 'no you can't have it'?"

Pam Macfarlane, chief executive of the MS Trust, said they were aware of variations in sanctioning the use of the drug across England.

"The MS Trust believes once a drug has been proven to be effective and safe, it should be made available to everyone who might benefit."

But a spokesman for Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG said: "On consideration of Sativex, the Area Prescribing Committee did not consider it suitable for NHS funding due to limitations in clinical trial data and a lack of evidence of value for money for use of NHS funds."

He added if new evidence became available local clinicians should resubmit it to the Area Prescribing Committee.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recently published a draft national clinical guideline for MS which recommended Sativex should not be available on the NHS. But a spokeswoman said the guideline would not be finalised until October and could still change.

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