A 39-YEAR-OLD nurse is the first person in Dorset to trial a ground-breaking new drug that can delay the progress of multiple sclerosis.
Rebecca French, who was diagnosed with the condition ten years ago, has been offered the chance to try Aubagio (Teriflunomide).
The single mother of two, who lives in Blandford, has remitting and relapsing MS and was told by her consultant that she would need to start injecting her medication on a daily basis.
“I couldn’t face injecting myself because of the numbness in my hands which makes it increasingly difficult,” she explains.
“So when my consultant offered me the chance to trial this new drug which is in tablet form, I thought it was too good an opportunity to miss.”
However side effects include hair loss and liver damage.
Rebecca adds: “I’m aware that I am a guinea pig and that there are lots of potential side effects and I will have to have blood tests every two weeks.
“But, although it sounds quite scary, it will help to slow down the progress of MS so I feel it is worth it as it can reduce the number of relapses by up to a third.”
Alice Weeden, senior policy and campaigns officer at the MS Society, said: “People with MS have been waiting years for a tablet to be available that they can take in the earlier stages of their condition, so we’re really pleased Aubagio was approved for the NHS and that people are starting to receive it.
“This treatment has been shown to be effective in trials, and offers people an alternative to injectable medicines, which can be difficult and unpleasant to take.”
Rebecca is also keen to raise awareness of MS which she says is often an invisible illness.
“It can be cruel when people who don’t know you think you are faking it because you don’t look ill.
“I used to love running and going to the gym. When I was first diagnosed I was in a state of shock.
“My only knowledge was that you were either in a wheelchair or you would die.”
Rebecca adds: “Living with MS is one big battle and sometimes I feel I am losing it, but this is a ray of hope.”