LETTER: Scottish doctors doubt MS drug

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Scottish Office Department of Health has not decreed that beta interferon may not be prescribed by Scottish neurologists, nor would it ever do so ("The price of health and the doctor's dilemma", 11 March). Whether or not to prescribe a licensed preparation has to be a clinical decision by the doctor concerned.

What did happen was that I received a letter in November last year, signed by all 25 consultant neurologists in Scotland, expressing the view that "there is not enough evidence to recommend this drug to MS patients in routine clinical practice" mainly because the only published random allocation trial of the drug did not show that it produced any reduction in cumulative disability.

The same view was subsequently expressed by the directors of public health of the 15 Scottish health boards, and, I understand, is shared by many neurologists working in other parts of the UK.

Dr R E Kendell

Chief Medical Officer

Department of Health

The Scottish Office

St Andrew's House,