A NEW drug which is the first available tablet for early stage multiple sclerosis has been approved for use on the NHS in Scotland.

More than 10,000 people in Scotland have the condition and the country has the among the highest rates of MS in the world. People with an active relapsing remitting form of MS have normally had to give themselves regular injections but the new treatment aims to block the action of the immune cells which cause damage to the brain and spinal cord through an oral tablet.

Aubagio, the trade name for teriflunomide, is the first pill to be made available for use in this way after being given approval by the Scottish Medicines Consortium. It became available in England and Wales last month.

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Dr Belinda Weller, Consultant Neurologist at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, said: "MS is a real concern in Scotland as it is a debilitating disease which has a high prevalence. This is good news for people with MS in Scotland and a significant milestone in improving the care of MS patients here."

The drug is only for patients with early remitting relapsing MS, when the symptoms of the condition can fade away temporarily.

Stewart Long, Acting Director for the MS Society in Scotland, said: "We've been waiting a long time for a tablet to be available for early stage MS, so this is excellent news.

"As well as making another valuable treatment available for people with MS, many people will be delighted to have the option of a tablet rather than regular injections, which can be difficult to manage. MS is an unpredictable condition and it is vital that people have the treatments and support they need to take control of their lives.

"Today's decision marks an important development for many people living with MS in Scotland".

The SMC also approved dapagliflozin, under the name of Forxiga, as a treatment for patients with type 2 diabetes. It can help patients who are already on insulin to control their blood sugar levels and also lose weight.