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Margaret was diagnosed with the condition when he was just eight, and at the time there were few treatments available. Dave said: “She endured muscle cramps and spasms for years and it’s heartbreaking to think that there is now a solution to this misery which is not available to people who really need it.”

Sativex, a cannabis-based mouth spray, can ease debilitating muscle stiffness and spasms in some patients and was approved for NHS use in 2019.

But the Daily Express and the MS Society have highlighted how only half of local clinical commissioning groups in England are funding the drug, leaving thousands who could benefit unable to access it.

Dave, who presents the Hairy Bikers shows while travelling the globe on two wheels with co-star Si King, has now joined the fight for equal access.

He said: “I wholeheartedly support the MS Society’s campaign to improve access to Sativex, allegra coleman imdb as I know first-hand how challenging it can be to live with multiple sclerosis and not be able to get effective treatments.”

As an only child, Dave helped his dad Jim care for Margaret and took on more responsibility in the kitchen.

He has credited his parents for his career path, describing how he inherited a love for biking from his father and a passion for hearty home-cooked meals from his mother.

When Dave was 20, Jim died after a stroke. Margaret died of pneumonia three years later.

Dave, now 64, added: “Thanks to amazing advances in research, there are now so many more options for people living with MS. 

“That’s why it’s frustrating to see that Sativex ‑ an approved drug that can change lives – is being denied to so many.

“It’s vital that clinical commissioning groups across England take action and make Sativex available to everyone who could benefit.”

The MS Society found only 49 out of 106 Clinical Commissioning Groups were funding Sativex in England. 

Around 4,800 patients are thought to meet the criteria for a four-week trial, after which they continue taking it if their symptoms are reduced. 

But the charity estimated that only 630 were accessing it on the NHS, based on monthly prescribing figures for May 2021.

Nick Moberly, chief executive at the MS Society, said: “Sativex can have life-changing effects for people who experience these excruciating spasms. Yet, indefensibly, thousands of people are still unable to access it.

“Thanks to our supporters, the Express and their readers we have put an immense amount of pressure on CCGs over the past four months, but it will take time.”

Why can’t I try the treatment?

Paul Griffin lives with relapsing MS and has endured almost constant muscle spasms for the past five years.

His hands and feet are particularly affected, making it difficult to straighten his fingers and toes.

Paul, 51, was diagnosed in 1996 and retired from his job at an insurance company in 2005 as his health deteriorated.

Despite hearing about Sativex 12 years ago, he has not been able to get a prescription as it is not funded where he lives, in Bradford.

He said: “I just want the opportunity to try it. I am so used to the constant spasms and pain I can’t imagine what it would be like without them. But I want to get that feeling if it is possible. My quality of life would be improved. I might get a full night’s sleep.”

Paul knows of a patient just over 50 miles away in Blackpool who is able to access Sativex.

He added: “Why can’t I have the same? There is no clear explanation, it is a postcode lottery. Sativex may not work for me, but I want the opportunity to try.”

Comment by Nick Moberly

Our goal is for every person with MS who is eligible for Sativex to be able to access it ‑ and although we’re off to a strong start, we have a long way to go to make this a reality.

More than 130,000 people in the UK live with MS, and thousands of them experience daily muscle spasms. These can be painful, debilitating and may make it impossible to manage everyday activities such as working, walking and eating.

Since launching our Approved But Denied campaign in August, we’ve been overwhelmed by the scale of support we have received.

Working in partnership with the Daily Express has allowed us to reach more people and have a greater impact than we could ever have achieved alone.

Every single Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in England that is not prescribing Sativex has now been contacted by campaigners.

We briefed 345 MPs about the issue in their area, and mobilised dozens of them to take up the case. But achieving real change is a marathon, not a sprint.

We’ve put an immense amount of pressure on CCGs over the past four months, but it will take time to see results.

Commissioning groups will need to go through an assessment process before they can make Sativex available in their area.

Frustratingly, this means it will be months before we start to see the true impact of the campaign.

But rest assured that even though we can’t share results right away, our work continues tirelessly behind the scenes.

As well as continuing to put pressure on CCGs, we’re working closely with NHS England, healthcare professionals and decision-makers across England.

We also want the Scottish Medicines Consortium to approve Sativex for use in Scotland, and will be working hard to make this a reality.

Together with the Express, we will continue speaking out until everyone with MS who is eligible can access Sativex, regardless of where they live.

This campaign will make a real and lasting difference to people’s quality of life, and we could not be more grateful to the Express and its readers for their support.

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