By Carl Jackson Thursday 28 February 2013 Updated: 04/03 13:54
A BROMSGROVE woman has spoken of her torment at having to pay thousands of pounds a year for life-changing medication that she would get free if she lived 15 miles down the road.
Chris Ray, 53, was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) three years ago which severely effects her mobility and has made her dependent on walking sticks, crutches and at times a wheelchair.
In December, a consultant at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital agreed to give her a month-long trial of the pioneering drug Frampyra and after just a week taking it the improvements were dramatic and she was able to walk unaided.
But, unlike in Dudley just 15 miles away, the medication is not free on the NHS in Worcestershire and costs her and her family £2,760 a year.
Now a campaign has been launched in a bid to bring about a change in heathcare policy so the Cherry Crescent resident can get the pioneering drug free on the NHS in Worcestershire.
It was ten months ago when Chris discovered Frampyra after watching videos of patients in America using it.
The drug works by bridging the gap between damaged nerve endings.
She told the Standard: "When I found out I had MS I thought 'Why me?'.
"At first I was really upset, but the next day I woke and thought I have got to get on with my life."
Her daughter Katie said she noticed her mother deteriorate rapidly after the diagnosis, and she suffered numerous falls as well as a bit of memory loss.
She added it was hard for the family to accept Chris would only get worse but said the Frampyra had given her a 'lifeline'.
At Christmas, during her initial trial of the drug, Chris visited her sisters and said her family was stunned by her progress.
"They couldn't believe it - we all just stood and cried.
"I can lift my legs without using all of my energy.
"It has given me my life back."
Now, with renewed hope, Chris is determined to keep on working at the Tan and Tone in Bromsgrove town centre.
Fund-raising for her medication only started in January and enough money has already been donated to pay for five to six months worth of Frampyra.
But Chris admitted it was difficult to think about the funds drying up and is hoping for a long-term solution, whereby the NHS in Worcestershire offers the drug for free.
An NHS Worcestershire spokesperson confirmed frampridine (Frampyra) was not routinely funded for multiple sclerosis although from April 1 future decisions would be made by Redditch and Bromsgrove Clinical Commissioning Group, overseen by the NHS Commissioning Board.
"We were sorry to hear about this patient's individual circumstances," he said.
And he added the NHS considered each funding request on its own merits and could not comment further on individual cases.
Anyone wishing to keep track of Chris' progress or donate can visit chrisrayfundraisingpage.blogspot.co.uk
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