Alzheimer’s drug challenge rejected by High Court

The High Court has rejected an attempt by campaigners to make Alzheimer’s drugs available on the NHS to those in the early and severe stages of the disease.

The court ruled in favour of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which in its guidance recommended that drugs should only be prescribed to those in the moderate stage of the disease.

The guidance had been challenged by drug companies and campaign groups, including the Alzheimer’s Society and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, which argued that Nice had overestimated the costs and overlooked the benefits to carers of the drugs.

The court ruled in Nice’s favour on five of the six grounds raised, deciding it did take into account the benefits to carers and had reflected the costs of long-term care in its calculations.

But the court did rule that Nice had breached its duties under the Disability Discrimination Act  and the Race Relations Act by not offering specific advice regarding people with learning disabilities or those for whom English is not their first language.

The Alzheimer’s Society said it had won a “very important point” on the discriminatory guidance but said the overall decision was “deeply disappointing”.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists said the UK would “blindly continue to lag behind every country in North Western Europe in making these treatments available to patients.”

Both the Alzheimer’s Society and Eisai Ltd, which makes the Alzheimer’s drug Aricept, have said they are considering taking the case to the Court of Appeal.

More information

Alzheimer’s Society takes drugs storm to High Court  

New guidelines out as drug ruling bites

Essential information on elderly people

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