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Motor Neurone Disease

Volume 976: debated on Friday 21 December 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make Interferon available on prescription to sufferers of motor neurone disease.

I am not aware of any evidence that Inteferon is effective in the treatment of motor neurone disease. A certificate has been issued to enable clinical trials to be carried out to test Inteferon as an anti-viral agent but these do not cover its use against motor neurone disease. Until these trials are completed and a licence issued, it cannot be marketed but it is open to any doctor to have it prepared or imported to his prescription for a particular patient. There are however considerable technical problems in manufacturing a sufficient amount of the drug of adequate quality for human use and the availability of supplies to meet any such prescription would be a matter for the manufacturer.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many people suffer from motor neurone disease; and if he will make a statement.

This information is not available centrally. However, the number of people suffering from this disease who died in 1978 in England and Wales is estimated to be 876.