FREDERICTON - A government fund to help multiple sclerosis patients in New Brunswick seek medical services outside the province -- including the so-called liberation therapy -- is now in effect.

Premier David Alward promised last year to launch the fund, and $250,000 has been budgeted for it this year.

Studies have cast doubt on whether the treatment actually benefits patients with MS, and the MS Society of Canada has called for more research into the procedure.

But New Brunswick Health Minister Madeleine Dube says that could be debated for some time, and there are people who need support now.

Only New Brunswick has gone so far as to provide funding to help people undergo liberation treatment abroad.

Saskatchewan and Manitoba have committed funding for clinical trials of the treatment and Newfoundland and Labrador is conducting an observational study of patients who have sought it.

A number of provinces are also now developing guidelines for doctors on how patients who travel abroad for liberation therapy should be cared for once they return.

Patients who qualify for New Brunswick's fund will be eligible for a one-time grant up to a maximum of $2,500, which must be matched by a fundraising organization or other third party.

They must provide proof they have been diagnosed with MS and that they have received treatment on or after April 1, 2011.