§ Mr. Cotter
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will list the district health authorities which provide to NHS trusts earmarked funding for the prescription of the drug Beta Interferon; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the effectiveness of Beta Interferon in the treatment of patients with multiple sclerosis; and if he will increase the resources available to district health authorities to fund the provision of Beta Interferon to patients with multiple sclerosis; 
(3) how many patients with multiple sclerosis in each district health authority he estimates might benefit from the provision of Beta Interferon. 
§ Mr. Milburn
Details of all the health authorities which have earmarked funding for National Health Service trusts for the treatment of multiple sclerosis patients with Beta Interferon are not available. Health authorities determine their own priorities with regard to funding particular treatments, including whether to ring-fence resources for prescribing particular treatments. The Department does not usually allocate funding to health authorities for specific drug treatments, but allocates funding according to a formula calculated to meet expected patient need in each health authority.
As part of the Department's health technology assessment programme, an evaluation and pharmaco-economic analysis project is being undertaken on Beta Interferon. It is not possible to estimate at this stage how many patients might benefit from treatment with the drug.