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Carer mobilises community behind Multiple Sclerosis Treatment

29 January 2014

Sunbury carer and mother of three Brenda Fisher, has secured more than 10,000 signatures supporting improved treatment choices for people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Brenda, whose husband Mark was diagnosed with MS more than 18 years ago, has rallied the community behind her call for FAMPYRA® (fampridine), an MS treatment that treats mobility issues, to be included on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

The treatment is to be considered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) at their upcoming March meeting.

Mrs Fisher will today present the 10,000 strong petition to Victorian Senator Scott Ryan, who has offered to table the petition in Federal Parliament.

Brenda said she is hopeful the campaign will demonstrate the groundswell of support from within the MS community for FAMPYRA.

“Most MS medications focus on slowing the progression of the disease so that people can live fuller, healthier lives for longer,” Brenda said.

“There really are few treatment options that assist people with MS who experience mobility problems, especially those with a progressive form of MS.

“However at the moment it currently costs more than $5,300 for a 12 month course. That places it out of reach for so many people with MS that it could potentially help.”

Brenda first began collecting signatures supporting the inclusion of FAMPYRA on the PBS 12 months ago when the treatment was unsuccessful on its first attempt seeking subsidisation.

“I’ve seen first-hand the difference the treatment has made to people’s lives and it was clear to me that I had to do everything I can to ensure it succeeded the second time around,” she said.

Chief Executive Officer of MS Australia Debra Cerasa commended Brenda on her advocacy and said there is clear evidence linking mobility among patients with MS and quality of life.

“The reaction to Brenda’s campaign clearly shows that mobility is a big issue among people affected by MS,” Ms Cerasa said.

“Mobility issues make it hard for people with MS to complete simple daily tasks that can make such a big difference in their lives.”

Ms Cerasa said MS Australia supports the inclusion of more treatments on the PBS.

“The fact is, MS is a complex disease. No two cases are ever the same and that’s why people with MS need subsidised treatments, so they have choice and flexibility to find the treatment option that is right for them.”

The public commentary period for the PBAC March meeting is open until February 12.

Any person affected by MS with experience of FAMPYRA is welcome to make a submission online via the Department of Health website.