Video report by Astrid Quinn
A man from Grimsby who is living with multiple sclerosis says he has gone without food and heating to pay for a life-changing drug not available to him on the NHS.
Martin Pridgeon, 43, was diagnosed with the condition in 2009. The former retail worker was so debilitated that he became housebound.He began using a drug called fampridine as part of a trial in 2020 and says he started to notice improvements within a month.
But the trial has since ended and Martin was told he could no longer access fampridine for free because he lives in England, even though the drug is available in Scotland and Wales.
"I’ve had to make huge sacrifices and cut down on things like food and heating to be able to afford it," he said.
"I know that there will come a point where I can’t afford it anymore and I have to stop."Since being diagnosed, Mr Pridgeon has suffered problems with his mobility, mental health, cognitive function and memory.
He now pays £200 a month to access the drug privately."I was battling on my own for a year or so, and just couldn’t cope – so I made the difficult decision to start paying for it privately, which costs £200 a month," he said."Because I live in England, they couldn't provide funding, but it's allowed in Scotland andWales, which is disappointing. It shouldn't matter where you live - it's just so unfair. It should be treated on a case-by-case basis."
Martin is one of 65,000 people in England who are unable to access the medication on the NHS.
Fredi Cavander-Attwood, Policy Manager at the MS Society, said: "Everyone with MS should have access to life-changing treatments, wherever they live.
"It is completely unacceptable that people like Martin are being forced to make devastating sacrifices to fund their treatment privately."
In a statement, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence said it would not comment on individual cases but "fampridine is a clinically effective treatment for some people, but it is not cost effective at the current list price.
"Fampridine was shown to be effective in treating lack of mobility in some people with MS, but not all," NICE said.