A CHARITY boss has urged the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (ABUHB) to provide a “life-changing” drug - years after it became available in other parts of Wales.

The Welsh Government approved orally-taken fampridine for NHS use in December 2019.

Studies show the drug, most often take twice a day, can help people with multiple sclerosis (MS) to speed up their walking by around 25 per cent and go about their everyday lives.

An investigation by the public service ombudsman found ABUHB has failed to offer the treatment to any of its eligible patients, of which it estimated to be around 500.

ABUHB said it could take another six months to recruit staff to deliver the treatment, while patients in other health board areas face waiting lists of their own.

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Newly approved medicines should be offered within 60 days of government approval in Wales, ombudsman Michelle Morris said.

The health board has agreed to “urgently establish” an action plan to address the shortcoming.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said it was committed to ensuring that people living with neurological conditions like MS were “supported to live their best lives”.


Shelley Elgin, director of MS Cymru, has shared her disappointment at the health board’s delays.

“The decision to make Wales the first country in the UK to approve the routine use of fampridine on the NHS was a significant moment for the MS community in Wales," she told the Argus.

“So it is disappointing that, nearly four years on from that decision, not everyone is able to access this drug.

South Wales Argus: Shelley Elgin, director of MS Cymru, says the Welsh Government's approval of fampridine was a 'significant moment'Shelley Elgin, director of MS Cymru, says the Welsh Government's approval of fampridine was a 'significant moment' (Image: MS Cymru)

“MS is relentless, painful, and disabling, but this treatment could be life-changing for people living with MS – making an important difference to walking, energy levels and a person’s ability to manage their MS.

“This treatment is particularly important for people who have progressive forms of MS who often feel overlooked and ignored by the lack of treatment options for them.”

Ms Elgin says fampridine proves effective for around 40 per cent of eligible patients and can have a “significant positive impact” on their quality of life.

She added: “It is already available to people living with MS in other parts of Wales and we have been repeatedly contacted by members of our community asking why it is not available in this area.

“Patients living in the ABUHB area are entitled to receive the same level of service as people in other parts of Wales.”

What the health board says

ABUHB has accepted the ombudsman’s findings and agreed to “urgently establish” an action plan with timescales for the provision of the drug.

Speaking after the ombudsman's finding, a spokesperson for the health board said: “We are currently working through a plan to see how we can meet the Ombudsman’s recommendations in relation to the introduction of fampridine in our health board area.”