Health / New treatment offers hope to MS patients

THE APPROVAL by the Scottish Medicines Consortium of a new treatment that will reduce and slow the symptoms of adults with early primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) has been welcomed by NHS Shetland and local MSP Beatrice Wishart.

Ocrelizumab (brand name Ocrevus) will help the progression of PPMS, a progressive, incurable and life-long disease with gradual worsening of symptoms.


Shetland has one of the highest rates of people living with MS in Scotland and the UK.

NHS Shetland principal pharmacist Mary McFarlane said: “After a number of years in development it is great that we now have the possibility of treating primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) with this medicine in Scotland.

“Around one in eight people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis will have the PPMS form which, unlike other forms, is unrelenting after onset.  Ocrelizumab will help to delay the progression of disability and offer improved quality of life for patients.”


Wishart said the prevalence of MS in Shetland has a big impact on the community.

“This decision to allow Ocrelizumab to be used in the treatment of early primary progressive MS is therefore excellent news,” she said.

“While this new treatment won’t be appropriate for everyone, it does show that research into MS is paying off and offers hope that new drugs will be available in the future for other forms of the condition.

“Scotland is home to world class research that is looking into more ways that people can manage the symptoms of MS, with a view to eventually finding a cure.”

MS is a life-long condition in which the immune system attacks the brain or spinal cord causing symptoms such as fatigue, weakness and visual and memory problems.

“Organisations like MS Society Shetland offer invaluable support to those living MS in Shetland and their families. I would encourage anyone affected by MS to contact them and find out how they can benefit from their services,” Wishart added.