Alzheimer treatment ‘not recommended’

A charity has spoken of the “bitter disappointment” felt by
patients and families at the news that the Scottish Medicines
Consortium has decided not to recommend the use of memantine to
treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer Scotland has called the decision not to recommend the
drug a “serious setback”. They believe the drug is an effective and
useful treatment for people in the later stages of Alzheimer’s

The charity points to research which has shown that the carers of
patients receiving the treatment needed to give 52 hours less
caring time a month. With the cost of treatment at £80 a month
and carer time valued at about £10 an hour, savings of
£440 every month could be made for each patient.

Memantine, which has the brand-name Ebixa, was launched in October
2002, and was the first and only drug to be licensed for the
treatment of moderately severe to severe stages of Alzheimer’s

The Alzheimer’s Society is now encouraging doctors treating people
with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s to use their “clinical
judgement” and to continue prescribing the drug where they feel it
is in the best interests of the patient.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence, which covers
England and Wales, is carrying out an appraisal into the drug and
will publish guidance in May 2005.

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