Politics: a national newspaper reports on the problem of repurposing

The Telegraph takes up the problem of drug repurposing. #MSBlog #MSResearch

“You may be interested to read the coverage in today’s Telegraph in response to the letter below from the MS Society and other stakeholders concerning the repurposing of drugs for MS. We have been lobbying for action on this for sometime now.”

Laura Donnelly, Health Editor. Statins could slow MS – but red tape blocks their use. The Telegraph 6:30AM GMT 04 Nov 2014.

Statins may be able to dramatically slow the progress of multiple sclerosis – but cannot be offered to thousands of patients because of “nonsensical” NHS red tape, experts have warned …….

Chatway et al. Repurposing medicine could help MS sufferers. The Telegraph 6:59AM GMT 04 Nov 2014

A number of repurposed medicines have shown strong preliminary evidence that they could be effective in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS), but Britain lacks a system by which old drugs can be relicensed for new purposes.

Simvastatin is a medicine originally licensed for treating high cholesterol, but in a recent clinical trial it proved effective in slowing brain atrophy in secondary progressive MS by more than 40 per cent. Further evidence is required to confirm these results but, if successful, simvastatin would address a significant need for which there is currently no alternative available.

Simvastatin’s patent expired in 2004 and we believe it would require a licence in order to be made widely available to people with MS on the NHS. The mechanism to achieve this does not exist, even though repurposing is a fast and cost-effective way of providing new treatments.

The Off-patent Drugs Bill, which will have its second reading in the House of Commons on November 7, seeks to address this issue, thus providing access to medicines that could help tens of thousands of people with untreatable MS.

CoI: multiple

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.


  • The politics of the drug industry……..I believe this is why patients are more interested in therapies such as stem cells that bypass the "pharma-industrial complex";-)

  • Alas, having the 'ideal' ldl/hdl ratio, low blood pressure and a BMI of 20 (exercise and healthy vegetarian diet, for all of my life) ain't going to help persuade my GP to prescribe this, especially at the high dosage needed for MS. I will write to my MP.

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