The lives of 100,000 multiple sclerosis sufferers in the UK could be greatly improved while saving the NHS £300 million a year.
The claim comes from the LDN Research Trust ahead of the first International LDN Awareness Week, which begins today (19 October 2009).
Low dose naltrexone, or LDN, is already available on the NHS but not all GPs are prepared to prescribe it to treat MS – naltrexone has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating alcoholism and drug addiction. LDN uses around 1% of that dose to treat MS.
MS sufferer Linda Elsegood founded the LDN Research Trust charity to campaign for clinical trials and has already helped more than 5,000 people in the UK reclaim their lives.
"Naltrexone is a generic drug that is out of patent, so very cheap to produce," says Elsegood. "The downside of that is drug companies will not fund trials as there is no money in it for them.
"LDN can treat the crippling effects of MS without side-effects and at a fraction of the cost of existing treatments. An annual prescription can cost just £180, while the interferon drugs currently favoured by the NHS cost £10,000."
The MS Society believes there are 100,000 sufferers in the UK, but the actual figure could be as much as double that.
Research done by the LDN Research Trust suggests the NHS could save £300 million a year by prescribing LDN. The figure takes into account medication, professional care and disability aids.
"We believe that the annual savings could be much higher – nearer £1 billion," says Elsegood. "Clinical trials would cost just £2 million and could benefit MS sufferers, their families and the NHS.
"Accurate MS data is unfortunately hard to come by, but you can't put a price on the thousands of lives that have been transformed by LDN.
"We urge the government to fund these trials for people not only with MS but also Crohn's, cancer and other diseases."
The first International LDN Awareness Week takes place from October 19-25, 2009.
Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"I have been on LDN for a year now and it has given me my life back" - Sue James, Bridgend
"Sorry Rita to hear that you didn't get the benefits from LDN that you expected. It is very hard to manage expectations when so many people report good results. It is important to remember that the only expectation that one should have, is that there is a good probability that progression of the disease
will stop or at least slow down. If progression does not stop, there are many issues to look at such as possible misdiagnosis, candida growth, food intolerances, stress, previous use of steroids. The actual doseage amount seems to be critical for those people who do not get the results that others do. One really needs a knowledgeable medical professional to help you along the way. That is why this Petition to the Prime Minister is so important. we really need the expertise of a lot more of our medical professionals. In the meantime the easiest way to get some good quality information from medical professionals, is to listen to the medical experts that Mary Bradley has interviewed on her blog talk radio. Follow the link from www.ldnnow.com" - Frank, Belfast
"For most people LDN simply stops the progression of MS - few people get better as Linda did - in my wife's case it slowed the progression down greatly and that gave her her life back" - Brian Lonsdale, Dorset
"I have tried LDN for six months but found it did nothing for me. That's OK, that happens with MS treatments. However, the publicity that says how wonderful it is sometimes makes me feel as if the failure was down to me. It may be wonderful for some, but let's not get carried away" - Rita, Halifax
"The use of low dose naltrexone goes far beyond MS. Its therapeutic effects were first discovered in the retardation of tumours by Dr Ian Zagon in 1981. Impressive results with Crohn's were published by Dr Jill Smith in 2007 (a follow up trial is underway now)" - Bob Thomson, Glasgow
"Like thousands of others I haven't waited for trials. As a result I've saved the French health system a lot of money as it's dealing with my rheumatoid arthritis and a carcinoid tumour. I don't even need painkillers any more" - Margaret Schooling, France
"My wife has been on LDN MS for 5 years and it has completely changed her life" - David Taylor, Dorset
"LDN is used for a lot of autoimmune diseases and some cancers with great effect. There is a petition to our Prime Minister to fund trials for LDN. Please go to www.ldnnow.com and click on petition link to support our campaign. We already have nearly 10,000 signatures and please watch Dr Chris Steele MBE from ITV This Morning support the LDNNow campaign" - Jayne Crocker, Wales
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