The National Institute for Clinical Excellence has been accused of failing to consider properly the wider cost-benefits to society of the multiple sclerosis drug, beta interferon.

The Multiple Sclerosis Society says account must be taken of the possible impact of the drug in cutting spending on social care and the benefits system. Last week it emerged that NICE guidance banning its use may be overturned. NICE's own appeals panel upheld arguments put forward by the MS Society, the Royal College of Nursing and manufacturers Schering Health Care.

Spokesman for the society David Harrison said that examining other cost benefits of wider prescribing of the drug 'would chime with the NHS plan to put health and social care budgets closer together'.

Health authorities are waiting for NICE to issue final guidance on the drug, said to be particularly effective in cases of relapsing remitting MS.

At its board meeting this week, NICE will discuss a report commissioned from consultants Deloitte Touche on its procedures for deciding whether products and devices should be available on the NHS. The report was commissioned after several key decisions were leaked prematurely to the press.