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Thursday, August 12, 1999 Published at 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK

Special Report

Patient condemns 'prescription by postcode'

Andrew Ross said his quality of life improved after treatment

A man from south Wales who has multiple sclerosis has condemned the decision to stop his medication because it is too expensive.

Andrew Ross from Cardiff, had taken part in clinical trials for the new drug Beta Interferon.

Despite it helping to improve his condition, Bro Taf Health Authority is refusing to carry on paying for his medication whereas treatment is being continued for patients in neighbouring Gwent.

BBC Wales's Ashleigh Crowter on the issue of "prescription by postcode"
The issue over the drugs has been described as "prescription by postcode" - where you live determines what level of treatment you receive.

Bro Taf says it would be "irresponsible" to spend so much money on a trial drug.

Mr Ross was first diagnosed as having multiple sclerosis - a progressive condition which gradually affects the body's nervous system - 12 years ago.

[ image: Andrew Ross was diagnosed with MS 12 years ago]
Andrew Ross was diagnosed with MS 12 years ago
Four years ago, the health authority invited Andrew and his wife Jo to take part in a trial for Beta Interferon.

"I would say it that if it didn't improve my condition, it certainly improved my quality of life," Mr Ross said.

His wife added: "It gave us a bit of stability. From the onslaught of each attack bringing more and more disability, it seems to give us a period of relative calm, and we have been able to plan."

[ image: Beta Interferon costs more than £10,000 a year]
Beta Interferon costs more than £10,000 a year
But Bro Taf decided not to continue funding the medication after the trial finished.

Since it costs more than £10,000 to treat one person with Beta Interferon for a year the authority says the price of the drug is too high - especially since its effectiveness is under question.

In neighbouring Gwent, however, the health authority has decided to continue giving Beta Interferon to those who took part in their trials.

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