A local woman living with multiple sclerosis (MS) has reacted to the news a new drug to treat the condition has been approved for use on the NHS in Scotland.
MS is a lifelong condition that affects the brain and spinal cord, but can be managed effectively with the use of medication.
Dundonian Katy Wood, 24, was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in 2018, during her third year of university.
She remembers: “I was devastated when I was first diagnosed. I was really upset about it.
“At first they didn’t know what was wrong with me, they thought it was just some other demyelinating disease.
“My friend’s mum actually has MS and she told me it sounded similar to what her mum had. I just thought ‘no, it can’t be that’.
“I’d assumed it was an older person’s disease, I had no idea about it. There’s no history of it in my family and I don’t know anyone with it, so it was all brand new to me.”
‘Medication for MS is progressing’
On Monday it was announced that a new drug, Kesimpta, has been approved for use on the NHS in Scotland, meaning MS patients can access the medication for free.
Katy is one of those who could benefit from Kesimpta in the future.
Katy explains: “It’s positive news and shows medication for MS is progressing. There is hope that there’s better medication on the horizon.
“It improves accessibility to medication. It gives people more choice and more control over their MS.
“I think there are so many disease-modifying drugs available, it’s really difficult to know what’s best for you.
“But when there are brand new ones, for me personally I think it’s better because the technology and testing has improved so much.”
Access to medication is a huge issue: For those living with relapsing remitting MS, symptoms can be fine one day and can flare up the next.
The new at-home treatment means many will no longer have to go to hospital when their symptoms are bad and won’t have to take time out of work to receive treatment, either.
Katy says: “For me personally, as someone who works every day, that would work way better because I don’t think I could take a full day out of work to get an infusion every month at the hospital.
“Especially if you’re not feeling well after and you maybe need to take a few days off. For someone that’s busier or has a 9-5 job, this fits in way better.”
‘I feel more at ease’
Though the approval of Kesimpta doesn’t currently affect Katy, she’s delighted for the wider MS community and the role it could play in her future treatment.
She continues: “Because it’s for very active MS I wouldn’t be able to go on it at the moment because my MS isn’t that active currently.
“But it has made me feel more at ease because if it does get really active, there are other medications for me to go onto.
“For a while I was really worried and they thought my current treatment wasn’t working, so I really panicked there was nothing else for me to go on.
“But there are loads of other options and it’s just finding the one that works for you.”