Multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferers in Scotland are to be the first in the UK to get a new drug that can improve their quality of life on the NHS.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has accepted Pledigry as a treatment for adults with the most common form of MS.

Some 85% of MS patients have the relapsing remitting form of the disease, where they have distinct attacks of symptoms which then fade away either partially or completely.

The new treatment was accepted by the SMC after MS groups argued Pledigry can offer patients a better quality of life as it requires them to have fewer injections each week than the other treatments that are available.

Mark O'Donnell, director at the MS Society Scotland, said: "Today's decision by the SMC is positive news for people living in Scotland with relapsing remitting MS, who will now be the first in the UK to have routine access to this drug through the NHS.

"It supports our fight, through our Treat Me Right campaign, for improved access to MS medicines for people across Scotland.

"The SMC's approval of Plegridy also represents a further step forward in the treatment of MS and improves the overall range of choice for people living with MS.

"This drug is designed to stay in the body longer so it requires less frequent injections, which people with MS have told us reduces the discomfort and disruption to their lives.

"Given its potential to improve a person's quality of life we look forward to seeing Plegridy made available to all Scots who could benefit from it."

The drug was one of six medicines that the SMC approved for use in the NHS in Scotland, including cetuximab, which was approved as a first-line treatment for bowel cancer patients where the disease has spread to other parts of the body.

It was approved as part of new processes adopted by the SMC which aim to improve access to medicines for those at the end of life and with rare conditions.

Professor Jonathan Fox, chairman of the SMC, said: "I am pleased that this month SMC has accepted six medicines for a variety of conditions that will benefit patients in Scotland.

"Two of these medicines were considered through our PACE process, and patient groups and clinicians gave powerful testimony on the benefits of cetuximab for bowel cancer and aztreonam lysine in cystic fibrosis."

Prof Fox said the SMC was "disappointed" not to have been able to approve bevacizumab (also known as Avastin) for the treatment of ovarian cancer.

He added: "Despite applying as much flexibility as we could, the committee was not satisfied it would be a cost-effective use of NHS resources."